Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 4 – Guardian of Gotham Review

In a surprisingly swift season so far, we reach the penultimate episode of Batman’s post-year one remix, and poor Bruce Wayne is in a heap of trouble after episode three’s revelation about the identity of the masked-villain out to cleanse Gotham of its corruption. Bruce awakens in Arkham Asylum, with Harvey Dent using him as a scapegoat, partly to appease a nervous public, partly to appease his own grudge against Bruce, and his childhood friend is running his company and beginning to delve into his secrets. Basically, not many people are all that fond of Bruce, and he’s stuck in the asylum while Gotham is torn asunder. So who can get him out? Well, it seems like his first meeting with his most high-profile foe could provide the answer.

Yes, Telltale has indeed failed to restrain themselves and end this season without The Joker cropping up, but considering most felt we’d see no more than a tease in the finale, this does at least surprise us. Here he’s just ‘John Doe,’ white of face, and green of hair, but not yet red of lips. You know who he’ll become, Bruce doesn’t, and it’s an interesting interaction with the future ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ as he shows of his predilection for bad comedy, brutality, and manipulation in what amounts to an extended cameo that no doubt sets up a future storyline beyond this season. It’s not the greatest Joker appearance in games by any stretch, but it is one that feels closer to the source material, and puts its own spin on it without bastardising it (yeah, I mean you Penguin). Anyway, it isn’t long before he’s out of the way, and we’re back to the story at hand (though he may yet have some connection to that).

Of course, Bruce finds a way to escape Arkham, and once out, he discovers just how badly his public persona has been damaged. A car ride home punctuates the brewing hostility that’s threatening to boil over at any moment and spark chaos in Gotham. It’s effective, and leaves no clear choice on how to handle the situation.

Once Bruce returns home, he starts work on finding the trail of the masked menace threatening the city, as well as attempting to figure out how to seize back his company. At this point, every story thread is converging on the destruction of Bruce Wayne, Batman, and Gotham, and this means we’re still coming out of this episode with little resolved as the finale is inevitably loaded with more explosive climactic moments than a porn compilation video.

Things are starting to majorly differentiate now depending on choices, so what I review is likely to be something unlike the things others see, such is the beauty of episodic content like this, so take what I say next with a pinch of salt because it could be a tad different for you.

Guardian of Gotham is pretty action-packed by the usual standards, but throws in all the familiar beats of the season to date (Go to place A or Place B, go as Batman or Bruce, big fight sequence, link the evidence). The pace is quicker, more substance is there, and yet…. There’s something a touch unsatisfying with how it all comes together. The highlight is undoubtedly the detective sequence, but that’s more for the heartening side story it introduces than for the actual evidence interaction. The big fight sequence comes from an interesting angle, but once in the nitty-gritty, it’s an unmemorable affair, not helped by the load between scenes that cripples the flow of it.

Still, this episode does a fine job of setting up the finale, even if the ‘cliffhanger’ ending is a touch muted. Batman’s biggest test in the season closer will not be saving Gotham and Bruce Wayne’s reputation, but rescuing a disappointing season and wrapping up as well as it promises to.



The Final Word

A solid enough penultimate episode, but the overall quality of this series hinges on how Telltale brings the threads together to finish it.