"The bar has been set high this time around, with a perfectly paced plot and just the right balance between action and narrative."
Episode 3, titled "New World Order," marks the third entry in Telltale's Batman series. After the previous episode presented us with a major choice in its finale, I was curious to find out how the next installment would be handled. Suffice to say, episode 3 exceeded my expectations and is easily the best in the series so far.
Being the episode that acts as a bridge between the buildup and conclusion, the story now has enough footing to offer a compelling narrative, and luckily, it does just that. Preceded by the traditional recap of prior events, episode 3 picks up not long after the previous episode's finale. As his life crumbles around him, Bruce fights a loosing battle to both maintain control of his business empire and clear the Wayne family name, while his alter ego delves deeper into unraveling the mysteries surrounding his new foes. Meanwhile, the revolution started by the group known as the Children of Arkham enters its next phase, as their plans begin to take shape. New characters such as Lucius Fox are introduced, and we're once again tasked with making choices that could potentially influence future events, though there's nothing quite as monumental as episode 2's final moments.
There's only so much I can say about the plot without spoiling it too much, but it's easily the most compelling so far, with spot-on pacing, top notch voice acting (with special praise going to Travis Willingham for his portrayal of Harvey Dent), and unfolding events that, at times, kept me on the edge of my seat.
For the first time in the series, I felt like the choices I made up to this point actually mattered. While I can't say for sure if this was really the case or a well crafted illusion (only a second playthrough holds the answer), I was truly under the impression that my decisions did in fact influence unfolding events, often asking myself how a scene might play out if I hadn't done this or that.
Gameplay is once again divided into choice-based narrative, quick time event battle sequences, some very minor exploration sections, and the return of detective mode, where you have to piece together clues to figure out what events took place. This is nothing new, but if someone enjoys the formula, the episode strikes just the right balance to keep things flowing.
As mentioned in my previous reviews, the series is geared towards an older audience, and this time it's not just a matter of violence. Play your cards right, and you get a scene that my notes simply refer to as "sexy time." Obviously, it's nothing explicit, but there's just enough to imply that somewhere out there, a dirty sax accompanies an orchestra of bed springs. It makes perfect sense in the context of the story and, surprisingly enough, doesn't feel too far fetched...other than prompting a surprisingly miraculous recovery from a seemingly serious injury.
Episode 3 has been my favorite so far, to the point that I'm somewhat doubtful that Telltale can top it with either of the remaining installments. The bar has been set high this time around, with a perfectly paced plot and just the right balance between action and narrative. My only real complaint concerns a reveal that comes right at the end of the episode. While it's not bad in and of itself and actually make a lot of sense in context of both the episode and certain prior events, I think that it came a little too early and, as a result, felt somewhat underwhelming. However, this may end up being yet another swerve, or perhaps even the foundation for something bigger. Only time will tell, and I'm very much looking forward to finding out what happens next.
This review is based on a free review copy provided to RPGFan by the developer. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the game or its final score.