Telltale Games is at it again, this time taking on an iconic DC superhero — Batman. Our BATMAN: The Telltale Series review takes a look at the first episode of the episodic game, “Realm of Shadows,” and sees how it sets up for what’s yet to come.
Right from the start, it’s apparent that BATMAN: The Telltale series is going to be as much about Bruce Wayne as it is about Batman. The opening sequence tags back and forth between Batman doing what he does best — fighting crime — and Bruce Wayne talking to his loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth.
Without spoiling too much of the story, the general story arc so far is centered around Harvey Dent’s run for mayor of Gotham City. Familiar characters of course are introduced, including Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Vicky Vale, James Gordon (not Commissioner at this stage), Oswald Cobblepot, Jack Ryder, and others. The major focus — as is with any Batman-centric story — is the need to clean up Gotham City of crime, including crime bosses like Carmine “The Roman” Falcone.
Even though this is a Batman game, you end up spending more time as Bruce Wayne — at least in this first episode. There’s definitely a lot of brooding over the death of Wayne’s parents, and some interesting ties between his parents and certain elements. While it starts off relatively slow, it builds up quickly and — as is the Telltale Games style — the cliffhanger at the end of the episode leaves you wanting more. BATMAN: The Telltale series is thankfully one of the darker Batman stories as is apparent by some of the choices you’re given to make.
Like most Telltale games, Episode 1: “Realm of Shadows” definitely sets the stage for the next four episodes, and here’s hoping that the story continues in the direction it started. I’m definitely curious to see not only where the existing characters go, but also what additional characters show up in future episodes.
BATMAN: The Telltale Series – Episode 1 “Realm of Shadows” plays like most other Telltale games. During combat, you’re presented with a button, joystick movement, or combination to attack, dodge, or interact. In dialogue scenes, you’re given four options to choose from as a response to what someone else has said, and you have to choose within a specified time limit. Finally, some areas allow you to explore by placing dots on the screen which indicate you can navigate to them and interact with the environment or other characters. A cool addition that has been added to the game is the ability to link two objects together in order to piece together a story of what happened in a certain scene. This really adds to the detective element of Batman, and you can incorrectly link items which will require you to unlink and try again in order to get the full picture.
One thing Telltale seems to have ramped up in BATMAN: The Telltale Series is the amount of button presses or joystick movements during combat. It’s a welcome addition and I found that I actually missed a few actions and in turn it made the combat seem more frantic and involved. In addition, the linking ability is available in certain combat sequences which allows you to set up the combat by linking an enemy with an environment element. Once linking is complete, you then proceed with the usual combat prompts based on how you planned your attack.
If you’ve played a Telltale Games game before, you most likely encountered one of my biggest complaints with past games — the occasional stutter or freeze that really disrupts the flow of the game. In this outing, Telltale seems to have found the issue and I didn’t encounter one stutter or freeze up while playing the Xbox One version.
Crowd Play is a new feature that Telltale Games has introduced with this game, and it allows others to watch while you play and make choices on their mobile devices.
Crowd Play allows people watching the same screen to be part of the story using their own mobile device or PC! By having your friends or family join a Crowd Play session, everyone gets to vote on choices made in the game. See how your choices and feelings differ from each other and compare results!
We didn’t get a chance to test it out too much aside from logging in with a smartphone, but it definitely looks and sounds like it adds an additional fun element to the game if you’ve got others around in the same room watching you play.
“Realm of Shadows” took about 2 hours to fully play through, and like other Telltale titles leaves you wanting more. Telltale hasn’t really strayed from their past gameplay formula, and once again it works quite well here with a few welcome gameplay additions.
According to Telltale Games’ previous press releases, BATMAN: The Telltale Series is rendered to look like a living, breathing comic book. Telltale certainly didn’t disappoint here, and the graphics definitely fit the comic book feel of Batman. The overall mood is dark, and the graphics and scenes reflect that for the most part, even the indoor scenes in Wayne Manor, and especially the Batcave.
One of the aesthetic options in the game lets you pick between blue, red, yellow, or purple for your Bat-tech in the game. Whichever colour you choose ends up being the highlight colour for your gadgets, gear, and UI throughout the game.
The sound design in BATMAN: The Telltale Series is fantastic so far. The music and sound effects fit the Batman story quite well. The voice talent is pretty bang on as well, and features Troy Baker in the role of Bruce Wayne, Travis Willingham as Harvey Dent, Erin Yvette as Vicki Vale, Enn Reitel as Alfred Pennyworth, Murphy Guyer as Lieutenant James Gordon, Richard McGonagle as Carmine Falcone, and Laura Bailey as Selina Kyle.
BATMAN: The Telltale Series is off to a decent start with Episode 1: “Realm of Shadows” which sets the stage nicely for future episodes. If you’re a Batman or Telltale Games fan, you should enjoy it just fine. The game is currently available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 coming later this month and Android/iOS to follow in September.
Be sure to check back for further episode reviews as they are released by Telltale Games.