Telltale Games have already covered a plethora of interesting franchises from the world of gaming and comics, including trips to Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead universe and Gearbox’s crazy Borderlands series. But it doesn’t get any bigger than developing an action adventure, interactive story for ‘The Dark Knight’, Gotham’s nocturnal protector… Batman. Considering the amount of DC tales already out there in the form of comics, animation and film, how can Batman – The Telltale Series Episode 1: Realm of Shadows stand out from the rest? Will it be able to outdo the critically acclaimed Telltale episodic series which have gone before it?
Well, it certainly helps to have a different format to the norm. In other Telltale games players have been in control of a single character or switching between multiple characters, across different arcs of the same story. What Batman – The Telltale Series offers is two sides of one man, and here you’ll take over the life of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman. Initial signs show that this works an absolute treat.
Many people may have overlooked the playboy lifestyle of Bruce Wayne, expecting these parts to be one dimensional. That couldn’t be further than the truth. I found it slightly exhilarating to mingle with the shady characters of Gotham City, trying to keep the night time antics under wraps from not only them but Bruce’s friends too. There was never a dull moment, and even though it was mostly conversational, I didn’t once pine for the Batsuit.
But that doesn’t mean the Caped Crusader’s sections weren’t exciting. Far from it. This is where the high octane action kicks in and the magic of the QTE comes into play. Don’t worry though, as there’s been an upgrade in those scenes where dual button presses are needed now and should you hit enough of them dead on, you’ll be able to power up a bat meter which will unleash a sweet finishing move. And that’s not all, because Batman has many gadgets and weapons at his disposal so when using things like the Batarang, players must aim really quickly which always ensures you’re on your toes and ready for anything.
Other significant improvements from the rest of the Telltale world include the ability to plan a whole attack in advance, choosing how best to dispatch a load of enemies. Scoping out a place before breaching at full throttle was brilliant but there is a calmer side to Batman too. Being a great detective hasn’t been forgotten and there are moments where clues need to be put together to form a re-creation of what happened at a crime scene. It tests your brain a little having to figure out which clues have a link once you’ve found them all.
As for the characters, having seen the likes of Harvey Dent, Catwoman and Carmine Falcone across many different media incarnations that I’ve grown to admire, it didn’t take long for me to appreciate their new looks and voiceovers. Alfred is, as you would expect, lovely but stern, in order to keep Master Bruce on the straight and narrow. Oswald on the other hand may take a bit longer to get used to, as he’s missing the usual physical deformities, seemingly attempting to perfect a ‘Legend’s of Tomorrow’ Rip Hunter tribute act instead. Bruce/Batman has been voice cast (Troy Baker) and designed perfectly providing the character with plenty of suave when necessary and a true badass nature in the suit… the other suit.
There’s no shortage in environments to gaze at throughout and whether it’s Wayne Manor, the Batcave or City Hall, they all have an attention to detail that you’d hope for. In the short moments I was allowed to free roam it was easy to notice the little hints dotted about towards other DC villains whom we may see in the future.
‘Realm of Shadows’ provided me with two hours of pure joy, excitement and even nervousness on Bruce’s behalf. It has already created a bond between the Batman and I. The story ended on a note which will have gamers asking the same question as Mr Wayne – ‘Are these rumours true?’ – And if they are, then Batman is going to kick off big time. As far as opening episodes go, this one hit the mark in every sense. The fighting was way more enthralling than ever before and I was glued to the conversation trees, trying to gain an ally or two early on. Putting on the thinking cap for a spot of detective work was the kind of intellectual stimulation, albeit a minimal strain on the brain, I’ve wanted to see more of from other Telltale series.
Purchase Batman – The Telltale Series Episode 1 ‘Realm of Shadows’ immediately. Then suit up, buckle up and get ready for one of the best interactive stories of your life.