It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride, but Guardian of Gotham showcases what we love about the Batman.
From its opening moments, the penultimate episode of this season is a nonstop thrill. As the series progresses, its getting harder to really discuss the details without giving away huge segments of the story, so take this as your spoiler warning now…
We all knew it was coming eventually, but Telltale’s handling of Batman’s infamous arch-nemesis, the Joker, still managed to elicit excitement rather than tedium, despite his often overuse. The Joker has a tendency to overshadow all other aspects in a Batman story, no doubt a consequence of his bombastic attitude, but thankfully this wasn’t the case here. The Joker still has an enormous presence in the episode, but not without taking away from the still-present threats of this season.
And while this rendition of the Joker definitely isn’t his most memorable, what does make this meeting worthy of note is his odd relationship with Bruce Wayne. The entire opening segment in Arkham Asylum is a fun experience as you meet classic villains as Bruce, but it’s the dialogue between him and the Joker, both entirely unaware of each other’s true natures, that makes it so interesting.
Guardian of Gotham is also a tonally darker episode, as the city begins to spiral out of control under Mayor Dent’s reign. The height of this grittiness being a gruesome murder scene, and to my delight making this another episode that doesn’t forgo an investigation segment.
There’s still plenty of hard decision-making and action too to keep up the episode’s momentum however, as we ramp up to the finale. As shown by the 50/50 splits in the results screens, the choices are just as polarizing as ever. We still have yet to see how many of them will play out in the finale, but they do seem to have a lasting impact, a step-up from many other Telltale series.
While action isn’t a high-point for these games, the big finale between Batman and Two-Face (at least in my game, you have the choice between going after him and Penguin) left a big goofy smile on my face. The ramp-up to their confrontation has gone from feeling like something out of the Gotham television series to The Dark Knight in scale and intensity, and it was an immensely satisfying and believable beginning to their longstanding opposition.
I’ll admit I wasn’t always totally sold on this series and whether it was the right fit for TellTale Games, but Episode 4 has made me eat my own words. It’s an exciting and tense precursor to the finale that shows the best Telltale has to offer in its narrative, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes to an end later this month.