By Marty Mulrooney
New World Order is the third episode of Batman: The Telltale Series, a five-episode adventure game from Telltale Games (Tales from the Borderlands, The Wolf Among Us). Following the Penguin’s brutal attack on live TV at the end of the previous episode, Episode 3 sees Bruce Wayne investigating the Children of Arkham while trying to stop his best friend – and Gotham’s new major – from losing his mind.
A key moment at the end of Episode 2: Children of Arkham saw Telltale’s Batman faced with his most difficult decision to date. Did you choose to stop the Penguin from seriously injuring Harvey Dent, or come to the aid of an unarmed Catwoman as she stared down the barrel of a gun? This reviewer chose the former and was pleased to find that Harvey Dent didn’t end up with half his face missing, even if Catwoman did catch a bullet.
As usual with all of the recent Telltale adventure games, each episode of Batman: The Telltale Series features decision-making moments that will tailor the game to each individual player. It would only be natural to feel somewhat pessimistic about such a seismic moment being featured at the end of the previous episode. Yet, surprisingly, Telltale has stayed true to the decisions made. If you chose to save Harvey, there isn’t a convenient ‘accident’ where he simply becomes ‘Two-Face’ anyway. His face stays intact for the duration of the episode. The decision actually mattered – bravo!
However, Harvey is still headed down a dark road. At night. Blindfolded. The injection he received was always bound to have deep psychological effects. Bruce Wayne hardly has time to register these changes in personality before he spots the iconic Bat-Signal shining high above the rooftops of Gotham for the very first time.
Speaking with Lieutenant Gordon as Batman, he discovers two situations that could use his immediate attention… and he only has time to address one. It’s the first decision of the episode and it feels like a big one. Of course it’s a lot of expertly placed smoke and mirrors as usual, but Episode 3 piles on the decisions and makes them feel like they actually matter. If you thought deciding whether to kiss Catwoman tested your resolve last time around… brace yourself.
New World Order takes the best parts of the previous two episodes and combines them. The quick time event sequences are brilliantly directed and feel genuinely fun to complete, with each button press making complete sense. The highly enjoyable ‘crime scene investigation’ from the first episode returns, with different clues needing to be ‘linked’ together to uncover past events. It’s a simple process that looks delightfully complex and makes you feel like an awesome high-tech detective.
Of course, the majority of the episode is still essentially an interactive cutscene where you decide how to respond to conversations and adjust the flow of the plot. In this regard, Episode 3 won’t win over any new players who dislike this type of adventure game. However, for those who do, this episode is truly superb. Each returning character is as professionally and charmingly voiced as before, with new characters joining the mix effortlessly. It’s especially wonderful to hear the dulcet tones of the hugely talented Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett, The Walking Dead: The Game) as Lucius Fox, a role he previously played to great effect in Rocksteady Studios’ Batman: Arkham Knight.
Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 3: New World Order is the best episode of the series to date. In AMO’s review of Children of Arkham, it was mentioned how “Episode 3 will be the midway point and, for this series to truly take off, it needs to be a definitive turning point.” With a well-earned cliffhanger ending that is genuinely shocking, surprising and game changing, that definitive turning point has been reached with aplomb. Bravo, Telltale. Bravo.
9 OUT OF 10