Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 1 ‘Realm of Shadows’ (review)

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Telltale Games has been one of the busiest game developers lately releasing non-stop game after game, with eight of its trademark episodic interactive story book games in the past 5 years. Since the release of its game of the year winning Walking Dead game in 2012, it continues to make more games with increasingly beloved franchises. We have seen the aforementioned Walking Dead through two complete seasons and a Michonne side story, Borderlands, Minecraft, Game of Thrones, and now perhaps their biggest undertaking: Batman.

It cannot be understated how much people love Batman and how protective its most hardcore fans can be of the property. We have seen this fandom lay waste to many a Hollywood actor or voiceover artist for the smallest of details, so understandably, Telltales’ take on Batman will leave many people angry regardless of anything they do. I have decided to play this game with a completely open mind, and will do my absolute best to not waste time comparing this Batman story to other comics, movies, or games.

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STORY

Experiencing Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 1 “Realm of Shadows” as its own unique story is admittedly not all that difficult since the story is completely unique to this game. Telltale Games itself describes the game as a “fresh interpretation of the universe set in current times, not tied to any existing iteration of Batman in games, film, or comics.”

In episode 1 things get started out with a fantastic fighting sequence all done through quick-time controls we have come to expect from Telltale. The fight sequence culminates into an intense showdown with Catwoman, voiced by Laura Bailey. The introduction quickly sets the pace and tone of the game which thankfully happens to be pretty dark. Just like the Telltale Walking Dead games are much more in-line with the tone and brutality of the comic book, rather than the television show, the same holds true for Batman.

The game does a great job with a fairly even split as Batman and Bruce Wayne. While we have been told that there will be certain scenarios that allow players to enter a situation as Batman or Bruce Wayne, no such choice was provided in episode 1, which did feel very much like an establishing episode. We are introduced to a wide variety of familiar faces in the Batman Universe, many of them with very different twists and relationships to Bruce Wayne and each other. It is a little difficult to approach situations as Bruce Wayne with a character like Commissioner Gordon; for example, when the game puts you in a situation where they are implying you might not be able to trust him… But just knowing Gordon as a character from the Animated Series and even shows like Gotham, you can’t help but trust him anyways.

Without spoilers, the story moving forward is very much going to focus on Thomas and Martha Wayne and how much Bruce really knows about them. There are implications throughout episode 1 that open Bruce’s eyes to some truths about his parents that he may or may not be ready to handle. Revelations that might have him questioning himself as Batman altogether. So far the story is stellar and I cannot wait to dig deeper into the next episode.

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GAMEPLAY/GRAPHICS

The gameplay and graphics for Batman – The Telltale Series – Episode 1: Realm of Shadows is exactly what you would expect from past Telltale games. The character models in this game are much more healthy and heroic than we have seen in the past with the Walking Dead games, where the head sizes are huge and the bodies are all lanky. The game ran absolutely smooth with no noticeable lost frames or jagged edges for me at 2560 x  1080 resolution. Telltale did not deviate from its recipe much at all when it comes to the cel-shaded graphics, the delivery of quick-time action sequences, and dialogue system. The gameplay element that Telltale did decide to introduce to this game makes sense in the fact that we are playing as the world’s greatest detective, but in episode one was very rudimentary. There is a new system that allows you to investigate the scene of a crime and link things you find in the environment together, to complete a story of what actually happened. While episodes one’s take on this was incredibly simple and resembled more an episode of Blue’s Clues than Batman, it may be that this first “puzzle” was only meant to be a tutorial for the controls and the difficulty could increase later down the road.

FINAL REACTION

As a stand-alone Batman game that is based on a brand new and exciting story, there is not a lot to complain about here. The voice acting is top notch although, Troy Baker’s take on Batman pales in comparison to that of Kevin Conroy… As a player, it feels freaking awesome to make choices as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. The weight of even the smallest decisions in this game are felt throughout the game early on, which really cranks up the anxiety of the story, in a good way. A fresh new take on a beloved franchise, I am definitely hooked and waiting very eagerly for episode two.

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

NR 4 Atoms - B

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Cory Vincent
Cory Vincent 434 posts

Forged in the crucible of awkwardness and self loathing, Cory somehow manages to get himself out of bed each day and make it a priority to spend life killing Beef and going H.A.M.

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