Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Released: August 2, 2016
Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, iOS, and Android
MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode)
Batman is a character that has been portrayed in so many different ways over the years that it comes as no surprise that Telltale Games is now taking a crack at it. The first episode of Telltale’s new Batman series, entitled Realm of Shadows, offers you the chance to shape the Caped Crusader according to your own personal choices.
In Realm of Shadows Gothan City is a dark, crime ridden cesspool that Batman is determined to clean up and a lot of how that is accomplished hinges on how you handle certain situations. If you’re familiar with past Telltale titles The Wolf Among Us or The Walking Dead then you know you’ll be faced with tough choices under the pressure of a timer – all of which will have consequences later as you get further into the story. Shadows doesn’t waste any time setting the tone as it opens with a security guard catching a bullet in his dome as a crew of thugs storm City Hall. Of course Batman is on the scene and the bad guys are out-numbered Dark Night to ten. This is also where Telltale’s familiar quick time events (QTE) come into play as you’re tasked with on screen button commands or directional analog swipes to eliminate the threats.
The QTEs are probably the weakest area of the game as the commands are forgiving almost to a fault. A few times I was a tad bit slow executing the required move but the action carried on without a hitch anyway. I guess the developers didn’t want Batman getting his ass kicked on the regular due to the ineptness of the user but it felt more like I was orchestrating the combat but not directly impacting it. Shadows is more geared toward being a game that you watch like a film more than you play. There are a few events that occur in this first episode (none that I’ll ruin here) that offer the potential for some really exciting plot twists as the story progresses. One thing I found of particular interest was Telltale’s take on the Penguin who we all know as a short, pudgy man. We’re introduced to a slim version of Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot (Penguin’s alter ego), who also happened to be Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend. This is the first hint that Shadows won’t be your father’s Batman.
Speaking of Bruce Wayne, he has a very big role in the game as he is the focus in this episode. Voiced by Troy Baker who you might recognize from playing the role of the Bat in the LEGO series, Wayne has more on screen time than Batman but that is by design. Watching him deal with situations that are over his head was a cool experience and this is where a lot of the choice-based aspects of the game come into play. How you choose to have Bruce respond to certain questions has an effect on what kind of person he’ll become in the game as well as affect the story direction. Predictably when you’re controlling Bruce, the action slows down but I like that Telltale chose to develop the character into more than the shell of an alter ego from comic book lore. About the only part they missed the mark on his how Bruce animates which is pretty poor when compared to the rest of the game. Some of his movements are pretty awkward, almost lifeless to go along with some poor dialogue and spotty voice-acting.
Overall tho this Batman looks and sounds excellent for the most part. The comic book style is clean and pleasing to look at, even if the some of the walking animations aren’t that smooth. Of course, it wouldn’t be Batman if we didn’t see any staple characters. Alongside popular villain, Catwoman, Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon (who’s only a liutenant), and mob boss, Carmine Falcone. Alfred is also a fairly important character, as he tries to keep Bruce’s sanity intact for fear that he’ll turn into the very monsters he tries to stop. When playing as Batman as well as the QTE sections there’s an attempt to emulate him as the “world’s greatest detective™ as as you try to link together pieces of evidence to recreate a crime scene or story.
Plot-wise Realm of Shadows has done a good job of setting things up for the future episodes. The lengths you can go to define Batman’s personality opens up many possibilities and the storytelling improves as the episode progresses. Aside from some awkward walking animations and drab dialogue I’m looking forward to seeing where this story is going. written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)
BMR Rating: 8.0
The season pass code was provided by publisher and was reviewed on the PS4