Batman – The Telltale Series: Realm of Shadows Review

Batman: The Telltale Series Logo, Image Credit Telltale Games

So after it was released yesterday, and after I spent this evening playing through it, it seemed only appropriate to post a full review of the first installment of Telltale’s episodic game. This game, like many of those before it, takes it source material from the comic book world, and takes place in the DC Comics world of the Batman franchise. I do intend to keep this review spoiler-free, so for anyone yet to play the game, as I know some people will wait until all 5 episodes have been released to start, this review should not inform you of anything too much about the story involved in the game.

For anyone who has played a Telltale game before, you will be familiar with the basics of the gameplay that will be involved in Batman. For those who haven’t, Telltale’s games tend to focus heavily on the notion of choice, and the consequences of decisions. This has been the cornerstone of its previous games set in the Walking Dead, Fables and Minecraft universes, and has been cleverly adapted into this new game. Whereas the previous releases have focused on one character, Batman essentially focuses on two, as you must make decisions both in the actions of the Dark Knight, and in the daily life of Bruce Wayne. These decisions are largely made through conversation choices as Bruce, as well as several action choices during fights against criminals as Batman.

The other chunk of gameplay is taken up largely by the combat, which again will be familiar to most players of previous Telltale games. The fights mostly take place through quick time events, timed button presses, and the occasional challenge of aiming a thrown/ranged weapon. However, in the Batman game, unlike previous games, it seems that you cannot fail a combat instance. In the Walking Dead game, I know that you could receive a ‘Game Over’ screen if you failed part of combat, but in Batman, missed combat events have a different purpose. The fights now have a small meter in the bottom left of the screen, which fills as you successfully complete the quick time events, and depletes if you miss an event. Once full, this meter allows you to use a ‘Finishing Move’ at the end of the combat sequence, which is a nice new touch.

Batman: The Telltale Series Gameplay Still, Image Credit Telltale Games

In terms of storytelling, the game, again, largely sticks to Telltale’s standard formula, progressing you through a sequence of events, in this case a mixture of Batman fighting criminals, and managing to maintain Bruce’s appearance as a businessman. However, in both lives, criminals and difficult choices are never far away. It is worth noting that the story for this game is set during the earlier point of Batman’s history, which is made clear by the police and press mistrust of the ‘Caped Crusader’, as well as several other character’s references to the Batman. This is a new story designed by Telltale however, and it seems clear from numerous points in this game that they are making this their own Among the cast in the first chapter, aside from the obvious introductions of Bruce and Alfred, we also meet Lieutenant James Gordon (not yet having reached the rank of Commissioner), Vicki Vale, Harvey Dent (who is running for Mayor of Gotham in this chapter), Catwoman and a few other big names from the Batman franchise. However, Telltale has assured us that there are more, and potentially bigger, characters to appear in later episodes.

While the game, like many Telltale games, starts off by building a basis for characters so that any players who are unfamiliar with the world can become just as involved in the narrative, this new game builds itself into an intriguing mystery drama. Alongside this, it also introduces some brilliant new ideas for gameplay, such as the rebuilding of crime scenes to work out what happened, and a sequence in which you get to plan your method of attack through a building. Also, I have to say that the first time you get to see the Batmobile appear and be used in the game honestly had me geeking out a lot.

Personally, I think that the first episode of this game has set up for possibly one of the best Telltale games they have made. I am filled with high expectations of the next four episodes, and equally am already hoping that this won’t be a one series game, but rather an ongoing series like the Walking Dead. It also makes me more excited for future efforts from Telltale, especially with the rumours of a Marvel game somewhere on the slate for them. This first foray into the superhero world from Telltale is fantastic, and I hope for more going forward.

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