Spiraling into Nonsense
Let me begin by saying that this review will not only be a review for Batman Episode 5: City of Lights but will also feature my opinion of the series as a whole. This review will also feature spoilers for episodes 1-4, and you can read those reviews here:
Anyways, on to Episode 5! Will the final episode wrap up the roller-coaster of a series into a nice, neat package?
In short, no. No it will not. Batman Ep. 5 was a tedious, by-the-numbers mess in terms of both technical aspects and story. Perhaps ‘mess’ is a strong term; I did find enjoyment in this episode. It wasn’t rip-your-eyes-out bad by any stretch of the imagination, it simply failed to capture my interest for the most part. There were two moments in which I actually perked up and was engaged, but without spoiling those moments, they were short-lived and never explored deeper than the surface. This is probably one of Telltale’s weakest finale episodes, and the series as a whole is surely one of Telltale’s least inspiring.
On a technical level, this episode feels like an absolute step backward for Telltale. Nothing about the presentation seemed right, and I mean nothing. Lip-syncing was poor, musical cues were late, there was inappropriately epic music playing at sad moments, as well as inappropriately sad music playing at epic moments. Lazily reused character models fill some moments in this game; I swear that I saw the same exact Arkham prisoner at least 4 times. These are all issues that most developers learned how to fix generations ago- why is Telltale not learning? Yes, I am not a game developer, so I can’t possibly know just how difficult fixing these issues would be. But as a critic, I feel the need to point out when the quality of something is not nearly up to par. Imagine walking into a movie theater and watching a film where the lip-syncing was off and the music stopped at random times: That’d be insane! It’s time for Telltale to grow out of this adolescent phase and enter developer-adulthood. On top of all this, there was one character model that apparently was only comprised of a face; that’s right: just a face. At first, I thought it was some weird Batman villain, but no- take a look at these screenshots.
What on earth is that at the top left?? And what in Gotham is Batman punching down here?? Is this Assassin’s Creed Unity Part 2??
To be honest, that particular glitch was hilarious. But still, it’s indicative of Telltale’s problems as a whole. I’m tired of giving them a pass, it’s time to put my foot down.
Usually, I can look past the typical Telltale issues in order to enjoy the story as a whole. In this instance, however, the story was a nonsensical mess that lost all kinds of plausibility. I get that this is a superhero game, but the writing honestly seemed a bit lazy to me. How on earth is Gotham’s mayor raising a private army and personally killing many innocents lives? In what world does the federal or state government not step in to stop this monster? How does Vicki Vale have skills and technology equal to Batman? Suspension of disbelief is necessary in every game, but this one pushed me too far.
Plot holes aside, the story was also disengaging. Telltale usually has some hook that’s baked into each series. The Walking Dead had amazing characters, The Wolf Among Us has a plot that twisted and turned, Tales From the Borderlands had some of the best humor in video games. Batman seems to be lacking that hook; I never actually cared about most if not all of the characters, the plot was pretty basic, and I never laughed once. It was just a by-the-numbers superhero story that failed to capture my interest. Furthermore, they didn’t wrap everything up neatly. Lady Arkham was given a shoe-horned backstory that brushed over her motivation. The joker’s cameo was never explained, though they’re obviously setting that story up to be the sequel. The drug never made a return, and Dent’s story wrapped up far too quickly. The story lacked quality, plain and simple.
Overall, this series had its ups and downs, and I’m sad to report that it ended on a down. I was hoping that this episode would wrap everything up together perfectly, justifying the earlier mishaps. Unfortunately, it only served to sour my opinion of the series as a whole. A technical mess, Batman: Ep. 5‘s lackluster story wasn’t enough to save this episode or the series as a whole.
Final Verdict: 2/5
Available on: PS4 (reviewed), PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Android, IOS; Publisher: Telltale Games ; Developer: Telltale Games; Players: 1 ; Released: December 13, 2016 ; ESRB: M for Mature ; MSRP: $4.99 (Episode 5 only), $24.99 (Full Season)
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 5: City of Light given to HeyPoorPlayer by Telltale Games.