Telltale Games lit up the Bat Signal last weekend at SXSW Gaming Expo in Austin, Texas. Show attendees heard the first details about the upcoming episodic adventure game Batman -- The Telltale Series, including its release date (this summer).
Telltale didn't offer an actual glimpse of the game, however. Over on Telltale's official blog, community manager Laura "puzzlebox" Perusco admitted visuals for Telltale titles come together closer to launch, after the game's script and story are solidified. Puzzlebox posted a shot of Batman's script-in-progress to illustrate her point, and rest assured, you can kill a man with the brick-thick sheaf of papers.
Batman -- The Telltale Series reportedly has you play as both Batman and Bruce Wayne. The actions you commit while wearing the cape and cowl affect your life as Wayne, and vice-versa. There are even "certain key situations will give the player the decision to approach a scene as Bruce or Batman, with consequences for both sides."
Bruce / Batman also interacts with friends and companions, and the actions he undertakes as either personality has an impact on said relationships.
Finally, Telltale's Batman series doesn't take place in any established iteration of the Batman universe, including any familiar movies, comics, or TV shows (though I think we're all secretly curious about a Telltale-style adventure based on '60s Adam West Batman). However, you can still expect appearances by series mainstays like Vicki Vale, Commissioner Gordon, and, of course, Alfred.
Telltale's Batman is effectively a fresh slate with a few core essentials slotted into it, and that's a smart move on the studio's part. Most of us are extremely familiar with Batman's modus operandi (have cape, will intimidate), but we get confused and / or lose interest when we're expected to leaf through years of history spread across different mediums. For instance, if Telltale happened to say "We're basing this version of Batman on Rocksteady's Arkham games," or, "Think of Christian Bale when you think of the plan we have for our Batman," that would alienate Batman fans whose knowledge of the series doesn't go far beyond "Batman fights bad guys." It would also chase away veteran Batman fans who aren't fond of certain established universes.
But Telltale's decision to get back to bat-basics is reassuring. I admittedly haven't been a Batman fan since the end of the stellar Batman: The Animated Series (though I still hold a candle for Batsy's depiction in the 2001 Justice League cartoon). '90s cartoon Batman was tough, but he had compassion. When he was overly-violent or made mistakes, there were consequences. I feel like that kind of humanity has been lacking in Batman for a long time.
Telltale's promise of something fresh and new gives me hope, especially since The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us prove the studio is excellent at delivering mature-rated games based on comic book properties. The aforementioned games certainly have their brutal moments, but they're balanced out with deep, bright flashes of humanity (even when the characters in questions are actually wolves and trolls wearing human skins).
I trust Telltale to do right by Bats, and I look forward to the finished adventure.