Batman – The Telltale Series: ‘Realm of Shadows’ Episode 1 Review
There’s no bigger comics hero in any form of media than Batman. That just so happens to be its biggest strength and its curse. Getting such an iconic character “right” varies between which variation the specific person prefers. Rocksteady reignited the passion for the Caped Crusader in video game form, and for the most part, the rest of the series only furthered that passion. But without how good the Arkham Series was, the Batman Universe is ripe for a heavy-handed story-laden title, and Telltale is the one to step up to the plate.
Telltale Games, who are known for their interactive storytelling prowess, are one of the first devs to give us an outstanding glimpse at Bruce Wayne and a detective oriented Batman. Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly some Batman action dispersed throughout the first episode, and it is indeed quite compelling. But, the story points are the strongest aspects of the title, particularly those of Bruce Wayne.
The Arkham Series provided us with more fighting sequences than you could shake a stick at, and while it was awesome, I always felt that the man behind the mask was the far more interesting aspect of Batman. Telltale nails this to a T. From dealing with iffy press conferences, battling the memories of your parents death and playing a game of cat and mouse with Catwoman, these scenes ice a fantastic look at the man behind the mask.
Episode one: Realm of Shadows takes some serious inspiration from the Nolan-verse in its various action sequences. Its opening is a clear nod to the Dark Knight, while its story bits feel as if they are ripped straight from the comics. To my surprise, the detective sequences were really well done. Sure, they weren’t overly difficult, nor were they THAT exciting, but they did a good job of progressing the story in an interesting and very Batman way.
As with all of Telltales’ titles, your decisions will have an effect throughout the series; although, some of my answers didn’t seem to make sense to how certain character reacted. In one scene, Alfred and Bruce are discussing his previous run in with a criminal, and in that scene, you can decide to break the perps arm or just scare him. I chose the more forgiving route, but Alfred still reacted as if I chose the more violent method in that next scene. Also, outside of just one choice, the vast majority of the players chose the same answers. While this is to be expected, I hope that the choices later in the series will be a bit more ambiguous.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode, but it is certainly not without its quirks. There was a sequence I had to load multiple times because I was stuck in a terminal, and while the performance was pretty steady, it took far too long to actually get the title to accept the settings I chose. This is saying nothing of the console versions which appear to be quite dismal to the PC offering. I also had some weird wandering lines at the edges of various characters, which appeared to be unintentional.
Telltale creates titles that are unmistakably Telltale. For better or for worse, you can tell from a split-second that this is indeed a Telltale game. This fact may turn some people off, but the gritty penciled like aesthetic perfectly suites the dour tone in Gotham. I just wish their decision-tree was a bit more complex for the various storylines that are going to splinter throughout the series. But from a starting point, they definitely did an outstanding job of kicking off Batman’s latest adventure through Gotham.
Reviewed on PC
CPU: Intel Core i7 4790K @ 4.00GHz
Motherboard: AsRock Z97 Anniversary
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970