I have just finished playing Episode One: Realm of Shadows of Batman: The Telltale Series and even though this is only the first of five episodes in total, I’ve already begun to form an opinion. This game is decent. One would not call this an excellent, awesome, or fantastic game but somebody could call this a nice or great game without it being a stretch. Simply put, it fails to grasp the attention and leave us begging for like Telltale’s The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones before it.
Customization menu at beginning of game allowing you to change color preferences
Just as you’re about to start episode one, a menu appears that lets you select what colors all your “Bat-tech” will be, which is a pretty fun choice. I chose purple because I thought it looked the best, but there’s also yellow, blue, and red to round out the options. Please note, once you select your preferred color, you won’t be able to change it later. Moving forward, the same Telltale style we’ve come to know and love is present, but it’s a bit more 3D then previous games. As usual the environments and character designs are visually appealing and keep the game interesting when the plot fails to do so.
Harvey Dent runs for Mayor with Bruce Wayne as his biggest supporter
You are playing as the caped crusader by night and the mysterious billionaire by day, with choices in dialogue and action for both personas. During your adventures as Batman, you can use your grappling gun, smoke pellets, and an intriguing gadget that picks up traces of certain chemicals or DNA depending on how you program it. In addition, there are good old-fashioned fist fights and fast maneuvering along with tactical plans to keep you in the action. While playing as Bruce Wayne is, well, less exciting, you still have many options in terms of dialogue and how you interact with others which will affect the story in the long run.
Also, as Batman you must piece together evidence and information you stumble upon to figure out what happened at the scene. It literally has you connecting the dots…lines…well dotted lines specifically to solve the mystery. This is a nice aspect that many other Batman titles leave out, Batman is more than a uneducated fighter, he’s an intelligent crime solver doing it for the good of Gotham. I will say that the fighting portions of the game are a bit difficult with such fast movements you must enact quickly or you face failing the stage or missing a punch. Aiming the grappling gun and locking on your target is a bit troublesome as well because in a few segments it simply did not pick up the fact that I hit the correct button.
Sometimes the frame rates in the opening stage leave a little to be desired, however I was playing on PS4 and maybe other systems will have better luck. Lastly, towards the end of the episode, a major battle where there should have been a lot of sound effects and background music had none. AT ALL. Two minutes of awkward voices only and watching when there should have been punches, explosions, and gunfire heard ringing in my ears.
Arkham Asylum looms in the background
***SPOILER ALERT: I will be going into details of the plot in the following section, so if you don’t want to know, avert your eyes! Instead check out other Batman posts by me here and here.***
There are a lot of decisions to make in this game, in terms of word choices, who to side with, and actions such as shaking hands that will leave an everlasting impression on the citizens of Gotham and your closer enemies and colleagues. Realm of Shadows begins with an innocent security guard at City Hall being shot in the head by a gang of hired thugs heading up to the office of Mayor Hill. Batman swoops in and takes out all of the bad guys before getting into a small scuffle with Catwoman and manages to snag her precious hard drive stolen from the office. The press capture the battle between Bat and Cat in video and pictures resulting in a news report later that day questioning whether or not Batman is friend or foe.
Meanwhile, this is all a flashback to earlier in the evening as Alfred scolds Bruce Wayne by the fireplace in his mansion, fixing his wounds. Bruce is hosting a campaign fundraiser event in his home for Harvey Dent, who is running for mayor of Gotham and who Bruce believes can bring about the change needed to rid the city of crime. You make an awkward little appearance just as Harvey finishes up his opening speech and the gala begins with many partygoers imbibing a bit too much. Here comes your first choice, Vicki Vale a reporter for the Gotham Gazette has crashed your event and you’re left with the choice to let her stay or tell her she’s not welcome here.
Selina Kyle’s encounter with Bruce Wayne gets interesting
In typical Telltale style, each choice will affect your story. So, I won’t reveal anything else beyond this glimpse into the beginning of Realm of Shadows. But, I do have some observations and questions about the overarching plot.
- Who hired Selina Kyle/Catwoman to steal that hard drive?
- Why did they change Catwoman’s backstory from an aristocrat who does this for the animals and fun of it to a woman who only does it for the money?
- Why is Harvey Dent dating Selina Kyle?
- Is Carmine Falcone lying about what he said about Bruce Wayne’s parents?
- What is Alfred hiding from Bruce?
- Why is there a subtle reference to Sly Cooper’s Carmelita Montoya in the game? (The female cop with Lt. Gordon is a sassy, Hispanic woman always trying to capture Batman but failing)
- Will Harvey Dent be elected or “taken care of” and then transformed into TwoFace?
- Will there be more iconic villains a la Joker (PLEASE!), Penguin, Poison Ivy, or Mr. Freeze coming?
- Why is there no Robin or Nightwing in the game?
- Will Batgirl be making an appearance since her name is listed with Lt. Gordon’s in the Codex?
The first episode of Batman: The Telltale Series has lovely scenery, character designs, and graphics overall. Though it stumbles in its mechanics department with some minor mishaps and frame rates, overall it does fairly well. The biggest problem is that, though the story is capable of holding my attention, it doesn’t leave me begging for more like The Walking Dead. By the time the curtain drops, you haven’t experience enough in your face drama or open-ended questions to leave you on the edge of your seat for the next installment. Does this first episode pave the way for a possible Game of the Year trophy for Batman: The Telltale Series? Hardly. But perhaps some of you will disagree with me. Do you think Episode One: Realm of Shadows is great or should you save your money?
Batman remains in the shadow of its Telltale siblings
Episode One: Realm of Shadows is decent, but not good enough to make headlines. This opinion may change as subsequent episodes are released, but for now, this is a weak start.