Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 3 – New World Order (Video Game)


Batman: The Telltale SeriesDeveloped by Telltale Games

Available on Android, iOS, PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, and PS3

Rated M for Mature

Funny enough, I haven’t actually been slacking in regards to Batman: The Telltale Series. I know, it’s out of character, and I certainly am coming out with this review only a few weeks before the next episode is released. Evidence would seem contrary to my claim. And sure, being a lazy piece of crap probably had at least a little bit to do with my procrastination. Tiger can’t change its stripes. But mostly it was that I didn’t know how to talk about Episode 3, “New World Order.”

After the traumatic events of “Children of Arkham,” “New World Order” starts right off with another hospital visit. This time, Bruce is checking in on his good friend Harvey Dent, who based on your actions in Episode 2 can look wildly different. Regardless of his face, his psyche is rocked by Penguin’s attack. No matter how you try to help, Harvey is on a dark path. But both Bruce and Batman have more to worry about than your injured friend. The Children of Arkham threaten to make a major move, and Bruce’s position at Wayne Tech is under siege.

Batman: The Telltale Series

They also unmask this dude two episodes before I expected.

There are tons of twists and turns before the credits roll, and Bruce is left in an even darker place than before. In terms of the overall narrative, “New World Order” pushed the series to new depths. When it comes to Telltale, we should expect the unexpected. It manages to twist the formula without completely reinventing it. It keeps loyal to its roots with memorable characters and the now mandatory dark tone, but shines a light on the Batman/Bruce character in a novel way. It’s in vogue to try to make superheroes gritty and edgy, but the internal conflict of Bruce and the personality shift to Batman is fresh and compelling.

My enthusiasm for “New World Order” is unfortunately tethered to an equal degree of trepidation. This is the point in every Telltale narrative where the cracks begin to show. Remember when you saved either Doug or Carley in The Walking Dead? Welp, Episode 3 was where the other one got offed. This is the point where these titles have to begin cleaning up to focus on the final episode. With how much I love Batman: The Telltale Series, it makes these cracks even more noticeable. With everything I’ve done to help poor Harv, it seems like Two-Face is still his final destination. No matter how well I behaved as Bruce, he’s still headed to Arkham in Episode 4. There’s a big argument to be had for choice and how much it should matter, but it’s always disheartening when you find out your decisions ultimately didn’t matter.

Batman: The Telltale Series

I’m sorry, Harvey, but disfigurement is a small price to pay for striking visual symbolism!

The choices in Episode 3 were also less compelling than previous episodes. This is a spoiler free review, but it’s no question whether or not I chose to bang Catwoman. There was one good decision at the beginning, and one at the end that could have been much better if a moderate option were not present. Otherwise, it seemed very clear what I should do. In a game so far defined by its grey area, there shouldn’t be an obvious answer.

Batman: The Telltale Series


It’s still far too early to say how the choices actually affect the finish line. This seems to matter more to everyone else than it does to me. There are a lot of mediocre reviews for this game, and aside from general distaste for Telltale style interactive narratives I can’t tell why. Many complain about PC performance issues, which is an issue I care about greatly. Since I personally haven’t experienced any beyond the first episode, I can’t speak on this. There are also a lot of complaints about the choices, which I only half understand. As I said, it sucks to have your decisions rendered moot. If you go into a game feeling like you what you do matters, learning that the developers actually didn’t care all along stings. For me, it’s always been more about coloring the experience between the start and finish. Going back to The Walking Dead, Lee will always start as a prisoner and finish as a corpse. It doesn’t matter that the goalposts never change, since the 99% in between feels different every time.

Batman: The Telltale Series

Except for banging Catwoman. I will always bang Catwoman.

It’s a difficult balancing act when you give players choice. Take too much away, and you make them feel like a spectator in their own game. Give them too much, and you weaken your narrative. It’s a line that Telltale has thus far made their fortune on navigating. As it stands, Batman: A Telltale Series might be my “Game of the Year.” I can equally see how it might be my “Most Disappointing Game of the Year.” At this point, I still love it, but it’s vaunted itself to such a high pedestal that any fall would crush me.

It’s a lot of weight to put on a $5 installment of an adventure game, so I’m trying to look at “New World Order” apart from its context in the larger picture. It’s a compelling rollercoaster of emotion, with the best action scenes so far. The revelations are shocking, and character development crucial. I don’t know how much this phrase applies to a five episode season, but this one is definitely “unskippable.” Still, most of the choices did feel preordained. I haven’t played through the game twice yet (saving that for a fresh take in the final review), so it’ll be interesting to see how playing as “asshole” Batman goes. It’s not quite as good as Episode 2, but only slightly. I confidently give “New World Order” such a high score, and am in equal measures incredibly excited and trepidatious about the final two episodes.

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