So at this point, I think the only way to continue talking about this game is to do so with full spoilers, so proceed at your own risk.
When I wrote about the first episode last month, I said that it hit its highest points when combining the nobility of Bruce Wayne with the brutality of Batman. True to form, this iteration of the man behind the cowl is already a lot more entertaining than pretty much every other Bruce Wayne I can remember seeing. Many of this installment’s best moments come from Bruce Wayne investigating, Bruce Wayne deceiving and in the episode’s best sequence, Bruce Wayne fistfighting, and that’s a great direction for this series to take given the revelations about the Wayne Family fortune that are at hand.
So in a little less than two hours, we deal with the revelation that not only was Thomas Wayne corrupt and that his fortune was built on the back of the empire of Carmine Falcone, but that Falcone is killed by a drugged Renee Montoya before any real answers can be gotten out of him. After the first episode was focused mainly on taking him down, to have a major player like Falcone removed so quickly is a nice shock.
Also, Bruce and Selina grow closer after beating the piss out of a bunch of Penguin’s thugs, and the man himself, revealed as part of a group called “The Children of Arkham,” takes over the mayoral debate, kills Hamilton Hill, and greatly maims Harvey Dent (turning him into Two-Face). What I liked about this wasn’t so much that Telltale’s “fresh new” take on the Batman mythos results in Harvey being maimed, but that I could have stopped it if I chose to. The episode’s end lets you choose who to save between Harvey and Selina. I chose the latter, mainly because the Bruce/Harvey relationship got a lot of shading in this episode.
Really, that’s one of the two things that are sticking with me most about this game thus far. There’s so much choice, so many branching paths. Not only can I choose to save Harvey or not, but I can choose to cut off his funding (I didn’t). I can choose to confront Mayor Hill as Bruce Wayne or as the Caped Crusader (I went as Bruce). I can choose to tell Vicki Vale who actually killed Falcone or I can stall (I told her). I can choose to forgive Alfred for hiding decades of corruption, or I can rebuke him (of course I forgave him, he’s Alfred). Combined with the choices in the first episode, there’s a dizzying amount of variation at hand, and unlike a lot of games that proffer themselves the final arbiters of moral choice, I know that the characters in this game will actually interact differently depending on what I choose.
The other thing that impressed me so much this time was how, up until the very end, this entire episode felt like the end of the game. Major characters were killed off, the villains’ final plans were revealed (speaking of, this version of the Penguin is a little more shaded in, but I’m still unsure of him overall), and the pacing hit a breakneck pace for much of the running time. It felt a lot like the final episode of Telltale’s earlier urban noir The Wolf Among Us, except this time we’ve got three more entire episodes to work with. Next month can’t come soon enough.