Telltale’s Batman series continues with this past Tuesday’s release of the second episode, titled Children Of Arkham. The episode dives deeper into Realm Of Shadows shock revelation regarding the history of Gotham’s first family, the Waynes. For anyone who has yet to play the first episode, be warned, this review contains spoilers.
Children Of Arkham begins with Bruce Wayne visiting a plaque dedicated to his parents, at the site of their murder – Crime Alley. Bruce struggles to come to terms with Carmine Falcone’s bombshell that Thomas and Martha were heavily connected to Gotham’s mob. The opening chapter makes use of Bruce’s detective skills, investigating the crime scene to see if there was more to his parent’s murder than a robbery gone wrong.
Bruce reaches the conclusion that only Falcone, who is being held at the Gotham City Police Department’s infirmary due to the beating he was dealt in Realm Of Shadows, can answer his many questions; unfortunately Carmine is assassinated at the hands of a drugged member of Gotham’s finest. Wayne’s investigations lead him to uncover that his childhood friend Oswald Cobblepot – better known as The Penguin – is behind the hit and endeavours to track him down.
Bruce further learns that Cobblepot is tracking Selina Kyle, due to her failed attempt to obtain the encrypted drive from Mayor Hill’s office in Realm Of Shadows. Learning that Cobblepot and Hill are in cahoots, the two team up (as their alter-egos), and make their way to Gotham’s public Mayoral debate; as plans are uncovered that candidate Harvey Dent is in danger. The Penguin crashes the debate, announcing that he’s part of a group known at The Children Of Arkham before chaos ensues.
By the end of the episode, Bruce’s worst fears are confirmed; along with a new foe (who I assume for the time being is The Scarecrow – although I may be proved wrong in later episodes). Dent is left the worse for wear, which should lead to his transition into Two Face, no doubt another obstacle for The Dark Knight to overcome based on choices made during the first two episodes.
Children Of Arkham has much more of a balance between combat and conversation sections; with at least three combat sequences to get stuck into. There’s also an option whether to play a chapter as either Wayne or Batman dependant on whether you feel reason would serve Bruce’s investigation better than intimidation and fear. Obviously there are consequences – this is a Telltale game after all. Bruce’s glad handing may not glean enough relevant information; whilst Batman’s “break-every-bone-in-your-body” threats may do nothing more than anger Commissioner Gordon and the rest of the GCPD.
Whilst I’m on the subject of the combat sequences, one element I neglected to mention in my Realm Of Shadows review is what I’ll refer to as the “Bat-Meter”; with a bat insignia popping up in the lower right hand corner of the screen during QTE combat. Successfully completing all of the QTEs builds this meter, and leads to a super “finishing” move at the end of the sequence (should the meter be filled). Children Of Arkham’s many QTE sequence comes during a bar brawl, pitting Bruce and Selina against a group of Penguin’s thugs.
This second episode pushes Wayne and Kyle closer together, there’s definitely an air of mutual admiration for each other personally and professionally, which borders on almost sexual tension at times. Naughty Dog alums Troy Baker (Bruce Wayne) and Laura Bailey (Selina Kyle) simmer during these scenes. Again, decisions have consequences; and it’s up to you if Bruce should keep his distance or make a move.
Children Of Arkham is a definite upswing from Batman’s first episode, with the balance between combat and conversation corrected. My only concern is that a lot of villains are now entering the picture – Penguin as a lieutenant to the character I believe to be Scarecrow (due to the mind altering drugs, referred to in-episode as a toxin), as well as the beginnings of Dent’s progression towards the Janus-like Two Face. Add in Catwoman as a tweener-like figure and that’s four main adversaries for The Caped Crusader to deal with. The next episode will no doubt deal with the fall out of the climatic Mayoral debate scene, so I expect it to be more dialogue-led.