DoorMatt Gaming Review: “Batman – A Telltale Games Series (2016)” (So far…)

batandcatTelltale games was formed, somewhat anonymously, as a game developer and producer in July of 2014. While the company was founded by a trio of former LucasArts (the developer behind Monkey Island, innumerable Star Wars Games, and others) employees Dan Connors, Kevin Bruner, and Troy Molander, the path of the company wasn’t designed or planned to be anything like the industry giant’s. Rather, Telltale from the very beginning sought to do things differently. Telltale Games has slowly built a name, and niche, for itself within the gaming industry for a variety of reasons, the easiest to point out of which is their approach to video game storytelling and the stories they tell: episodic content of licensed properties.

From their early development of CSI titles for Ubisoft, Telltale has very rarely broken from this formula and it hasn’t failed them yet. Telltale has created titles based around Wallace & Gromit, Monkey Island, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, The Wolf Among Us (based on Bill Willingham’s comic series Fables), Minecraft, and, perhaps most famously, two seasons (an upcoming third) and two specials based upon Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comics. With all of those properties attacked, and the results being widely loved and praised, what could they possibly do in 2016 to top what has come before?

The answer came at the Game Awards in December 2015…

Reaction was strong, very positive, and created great anticipation. From the art style to the choice of story, curiosity abound and we finally got our first taste when Episode 1 – “Realm of Shadows” was released on August 2nd. I could go on and on and on about what was great about each episode (1 and 2 – “Children of Arkham”) so far but that would get us widely off topic. What is worth discussing is what this series has gotten right before I get into Episode 3, which was released on Tuesday (10/25).

brucewayneWhat I love most about Telltale Batman is that it is the first Batman game to capture the proper feeling of Batman. That’s not to say that good Batman games don’t exist – The Arkham series by Rocksteady still stands as the relaunching point of Batman as a video game commodity – it’s just that none of them have really offered such a complete take on my favorite comic book hero. What many Batman fans love about the character, myself included, is that Bruce Wayne is such a deeply flawed persona that in many ways is much more interesting than the one he patrols rooftops as at night. Taken from a June 2016 article by Alex Avard:

“There are dozens of Batman video games, but none have the angle Telltale has taken with the beloved character. As demonstrated by my first glimpse into the gameplay of this five-part series, the studio is treating the DC license as an opportunity to undertake a grounded character study of the man behind the mask: Mr. Bruce Wayne himself.”

Batman as a comic was not just about what the character did with his time under the cape and cowl. Rather, it was often about Bruce Wayne and his struggle to fulfill his obligation to his parents, himself, and his city. The fact that Telltale offered REAL options in their series to accomplish just as much playing as Bruce Wayne as you can as Batman shows that, for one, their storytelling continues to be something other developers should strive for and two, their are more ways than one to create the best approach to the Batman mythos. Aside from this new angle, all the familiar characters are there (Gordon, Selina Kyle, Harvey Dent, etc…) with new story twists for all of them. Couple this with a story that is… different, for lack of a better term, and you have a Batman game that has created something new with a decades old character and a game that has fully exceeded expectations.

Now, for Episode 3 in proper. The third of five schedules episodes, “New World Order” isn’t a misdirect – it is a new world for Bruce Wayne. After the events of the first two episodes in the series, Bruce’s world is being turned upside down. Without delving into deep spoiler territory, Bruce’s family legacy has been destroyed, his friends are hurt, his company is in shambles, and people are dying. Episode 3 sets the stage well, requiring you to utilize both sides of Bruce’s psyche to get to the bottom of what is happening: The Dark Knight and the cornered Billionaire. Action abounds in this episode but all of it in ways that feel rewarding and a natural progression of where the story is going for the characters and as a whole. And, in classic Telltale fashion, the episode ends on a large cliffhanger that will leave you frustrated that episodic game storytelling is still a thing.

13679938_10153788536223597_8984223050530435721_oIt is very difficult to discuss this episode without giving too much away but, if you have played the game thus far, let me know what you think. Am I just jaded by how much I love the Caped Crusader? Am I wrong in declaring this perhaps the BEST Batman game made yet? Leave some comments, share with friends, and let me know other things you might want to hear about!


Format Change

As you might’ve noticed, we’ve changed a few things around here. I’ve changed the scheme a little bit color wise and I’ve added a new headed image, created for me by my talented friend and collaborator Brian Mitchell. Please visit his web store to check out some more of his work and for contact information!

Deep Six Podcast: Episode 9

DeepSixPodcast_square2Episode 9 of the Deep Six Podcast is now online! Fair warning: this episode gets very into wrestling and comic movies territory so, if that’s not for you, this episode won’t be for you. Also, we learn a little more than we need to about some of Steve’s personal time interests.

As always, Steve, Dan, and myself get a little off the rails but circle the wagons and bring it home in good time.

You can find the Deep Six Podcast on all major platforms (itunes, google play, stitcher radio, etc…) or at podbean which I will link below!

DoorMatt Gaming: Red Dead Redemption 2 Trailer Released!!!

Can we talk for a second about how dope this trailer is (as much as a trailer that shows absolutely nothing can be dope?) Maybe I’m just partial to old west storylines, or westerns in general, but I loved Red Dead 1 WAY more than any of the GTA games and now I’m insanely looking forward to this. The only thing I find sad is that I can’t continue the story of (SPOILERS) John Marston (/SPOILERS).

Of course, I’m open to any discussion that disagrees with me. Just know you’re wrong. A lot.

Where I’ve Been…

IMG129I should start by apologizing for the lengthy absence I’ve taken but maybe that gives me an opportunity, albeit brief, to impart some wisdom before I get into the meat of what I want to say today.

Life is weird. I’m not exactly shedding light on any new ground there, for sure, but it’s a journey. We can get ourselves onto tremendous highs, lengthy plateaus, and deep lows, all within the series of months, weeks, days… Hell, seconds. Earlier this year, I’d say that I was finally reaching some highs. I got myself clean (again – and holding), found a solid relationship, friendships were good, I was creatively fulfilled… I can’t say that there was any one specific thing that wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. I’ve often found that those moments of peace and tranquility are where it falls apart but, this time, it didn’t. I was in a good place for quite awhile.

So, fast forward a few months, and I’m pretty much miserable, right? I hide it well, unless you’re one of my very close friends, but I’m generally a drag to be around or associate with. I try not to be but I find it hard to be anything but. I’m still clean, thankfully, for maybe the longest I have been in years, but otherwise, everything else has fallen apart.Without getting into particulars, I have been feeling horribly, horribly alone. I’ve lost relationships and friendships over the past several months, live by myself and don’t generally go places… Where others in this situation would choose to get themselves out to do things and break from the malaise, I’ve chosen isolation. It’s only been the past week or so that I’ve just driven myself to pull out of it. And that’s what brings me here.

Like any journey, the road has many exits and you often know where you want to go but get lost along the way, right? This is my last detour, it has to be. Isolation isn’t healthy, or rewarding, and will only serve to send you further into a spiral. I’m choosing a different exit (to continue the dorky driving analogy.)

So, if you’re in the same boat I am/was, let’s try it together. Challenge yourself, don’t rely on others pushing you, it’ll only build resentment. It has to begin at home. Here’s a small sample of what I’ve been pouring myself into the past week or two, a new web series concept that I’m calling “Quarterlife.” I hope to start getting some people together for a table read of sorts in the next few days and MAYBE film this pilot in the next month or so. I have other projects in the pipeline but this is what I wanted to share today because… Maybe my shitty, rambling, too many words story of months of depression can help someone else see there’s a channel for that energy. Find your channel, share it with the world.