After a certain point playing Arkham Knight, I found the combat to be tedious and really just was pushing through to try to get to the next story beat. With Telltale's focus on storytelling, this game was clearly the cure to the Batman blues. Not only did this first episode shift the focus, it focused heavily on someone that no other Batman game has: Bruce Wayne. While you did play as Bruce in the fantastic and surprising opening of Arkham City, my personal favorite of the series, his role hasn't really been explored in any depths in this medium.
This focus on Bruce plays perfectly into Telltale's dialog choice system. Bruce gets put in a series of very interesting positions throughout the episode that can be handled in a nice variety of ways. I particularly liked the tension involved in the scene where gangster Carmine Falcone crashes Wayne Manor during a fundraiser for Harvey Dent's mayoral campaign. I haven't played the episode again to see if these dialog choices make a significant change in the narrative, but the game does a good job of making it FEEL important in the moment.
The Batman sequences play out about exactly as you would expect them to given how Telltale has handled action sequences in the past. Fights are played out with quick time events that determine how successful you are at striking or dodging. Many of them are masterfully choreographed, making them exciting to play, even if the interaction is minimal. There's a very cool puzzle section where you analyze clues at a crime scene and slowly piece together exactly how everything played out. The majority of choices that you make while playing as Batman involve how brutal of a vigilante you want to be. Do you simply menace the thug, or do you want to actually brutalize him? It's a little too early to tell how far you can push this, but it appears this will have an impact on how the public reacts to you.
None of this would matter if the story wasn't there, and I'm happy to say it works. While there can be some moments where they hit very familiar beats that have been covered about Batman over his 75+ year history, the game manages to carve out a new path and twist familiar things in creative ways. One longtime character is reimagined as a cockney punk who was childhood friends with Bruce Wayne. The writers also do some unique things that call into question the history and legacy of the Wayne family. I was surprised to see a certain plot element seemingly wrapped up by the end of this first episode, but the cliffhanger at the end is quite the juicy one.
With the DC Rebirth on the comics side of thing, my interest in Batman has been reinvigorated by the new creative team of the relaunched book. Despite liking the Arkham games so much, I'm glad they've been put to rest for now and I'm glad this has risen up in its place. This game takes elements of Batman and Telltale that are familiar and combines them together to make both formulas feel fresh. Batman: Arkham City is one of my favorite Batman stories in any medium, so I have no doubt that another video game company can create a classic worthy of the hero.