It's difficult to imagine Batman's devoted butler Alfred Pennyworth as anything other than an honorable man. Throughout the comics and the movies, Alfred in every iteration has looked after his charge's best interests and, above all else, proven that he has #Batman's back.
In Batman: The Telltale Games, it is a different story. It seems this is a different Gotham than the one Batman fans have grown up with and have come to know almost as well as their own homes. The saintly Wayne family consorted with gangsters, which may have ultimately led to their deaths; Bruce and Oswald Cobblepot, who would later become the Penguin, were old school chums; and perhaps most significantly, Alfred stayed with young Bruce after his parents were murdered not out of loyalty to the family, but out of guilt because he didn't want to see the youngster grow up alone.
So the question becomes: Just how else is #TelltaleGame's Alfred different to the Alfred we're so used to?
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There's no denying that the Alfred we all know and love from the comics and movies is fiercely loyal to #BruceWayne and to the legacy his family built. Alfred is a significant support — sometimes a reluctant one — to Bruce's escapades as Batman, and while he understands that his boss's work as a vigilante does great things for Gotham City, he doesn't always like it. That said, he still stays by Bruce's side, ensuring he's got a stable figure in his life that he can turn to for advice or the push he needs to do what he needs to do.
In Telltale, we're never quite sure what to make of Alfred. When Bruce finds out his parents did indeed consort with Falcone, he is angry that Alfred, one of his most trusted companions, concealed this information. There are always questions, largely based on just how much Alfred knows and what ultimately happens to him throughout, about whether Alfred is aligned with Bruce or if he's somehow aligned himself with other nefarious characters in the series. After all:
- As Bruce Wayne's guardian, a role he assumes even into Bruce's adult life, Alfred is privy to all of the Wayne family secrets. That makes him extremely dangerous.
- He frequently reminds Bruce in Telltale that he only stayed in order to help the youngster grow to be different to what his father was.
While in the comics and the movies, we see Alfred helping Bruce, either by remotely controlling his various technological wonders (like the Batplane) or by simply bringing him food and drink, it would appear that the Alfred we see in Batman: The Telltale Games is not just a simple butler.
Indeed, one episode sees Alfred using a gun effectively, and the player realizes very quickly that Alfred is a crack shot. How did he become so handy with firearms after more two decades of something like indentured servitude? There's also the matter of the Waynes having previously been in bed with gangsters, and Alfred deciding to leave their service. If that was the case, how was Alfred able to leave so easily?
Alfred is also able to handle the defense of Wayne Manor when called upon to do so, killing several of Two-Face's goons in the process. There is no way that the Alfred of the comics and films would have been able to accomplish this so readily.
Why He's Raising Bruce In The First Place
The #DCComics canon explains that Alfred wanted to ensure young Bruce served as a fitting legacy to his parents, and because he cared so much about the Wayne family, Alfred decided the best gift he could have given Thomas and Martha Wayne was to ensure their son grew into the man they would have wanted him to be, a man with honor and loyalty.
In Telltale, Alfred's desired outcome for his charge is the same, though his motivation is far different. Because the Waynes were corrupt and consorting with criminals, Alfred wanted no further involvement with the family. However, when the Waynes were murdered, Alfred seems to have seen an opportunity for redemption for the family name — through Bruce. As such, he raised the boy to be a far better man than his parents ever seem to have been.
Alfred reveals to Bruce that his parents worked with #Gotham City's criminal element in order to secure his future, thereby throwing into question Batman's raison d'etre, or at the very least, setting the stage nicely for some great inner conflict for Bruce Wayne as to why Batman was born in the first place.
A Nice Twist On A Familiar Face
It's refreshing to see the path Telltale has taken with Alfred and the other characters from DC's Batman series. While some fans would shudder to think of their beloved hero and his most loyal friend as being anything other than the images we have grown up with, Batman: The Telltale Games allows gamers to play a significant game of what if? And that alone is a great reason to embrace it.
Let me know what you think of Telltale's Alfred in the comments. Batman: The Telltale Games is out now.