Version Tested: PC
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac
Where To Buy: Steam
Not to oversimplify things, but you probably have a pretty good idea whether or not you are going to like Telltale’s Batman. It is Telltale at its best and worst. Batman brings some new ideas that work pretty well, but the common complaints about Telltale’s adventure games are all included in Part 1: Realm of Shadows. Let’s dive in and see what Batman really brings to the table, and whether or not this new series is worth getting into.
One of the best things Batman brings to the table is the difference in playstyle between Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. Bruce Wayne is involved in a lot more of the traditional Telltale gameplay: navigating tense social interaction and realizing what horrible decisions you made earlier in the game. The dark knight, however, features a great deal of quickly timed button presses in order to beat down your enemies. Not that both sides do not have elements of the other, but, at least in the first episode, Bruce Wayne’s sections are the tense conversations and Batman’s are the action scenes.
Batman is not just a crime-fighter; he’s also the world’s greatest detective. The puzzle solving mechanic in the game does not seem fully realized yet, but there is definite space to make it interesting. When investigating a crime scene as Batman, players will have to find various pieces of evidence. They can then “link” together the pieces that correspond with one another, revealing new clues and allowing the player to reconstruct the crime. This might be something like linking together a spent bullet case with a dead body, revealing the bullet trajectory and thus, the shooter’s perch. Realm of Shadows only uses it a few times, but it does allow you to reconstruct the scene and feel a bit more like the bat.
The graphics in Batman are pretty typical Telltale. They are caught somewhere between the full on cartoon look of Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands and the realistic look of Game of Thrones. It definitely works for the game. When playing as Bruce Wayne, things do not look quite as exciting, but Batman’s world comes alive a bit more with splashes of bright color and faster paced action. It looks solid, but nothing spectacular. Although Harvey Dent’s character model just seemed… off to me.
Story-driven games tend to live or die on the voice acting. If actors are not believable in their speaking roles, it can be very difficult to care what they are saying or doing. The voice acting in the first episode is strong, but nothing too amazing yet. Certain characters absolutely nail their roles, such as Erin Yvette as Vicki Vale, who was a surprisingly interesting character for me. Richard McGonagle and Jason Spisak also play excellent secondary roles. Troy Baker makes for a fine Bruce Wayne, but he does not really infuse it with anything amazing. Maybe it is just because Baker seems to be everywhere right now, but Bruce did not quite grab me in the first episode. On the flip side, Batman gets to do some cool modular effects with his voice, utilizing some sort of wearable device on his throat when he goes into “threatening” mode that makes it sound like Christian Bale injected some steroids. It works for the character very well and helps separate the two sides of Bruce Wayne.
The most important part of any story-driven game is the story, and Realm of Shadows does a great job setting up what should be a fascinating take on the Dark Knight. The power struggle for Gotham seems like it will go to some very interesting places, and it will be fun to see which characters from the thousands of Batman comics will make it into the story. The cliffhanger that ends the first episode is one that should push Bruce to the limits in order to solve the mystery, and should leave players very eager for the second episode, entitled Children of Arkham. Sounds like more of Batman’s gallery of rogues will be entering the fray, doesn’t it? Luckily, Telltale hopes to be more timely with their episodic releases, as they stated a desire to get the entire game released by the end of 2016.
Batman – Episode 1: Realm of Shadows is a good starting point for the series, as it sets things up well and introduces a solid preview of what to expect. On its own, it is a good adventure game. In the grand scheme of things, however, it appears to be pointing in the direction of another home run for Telltale.
- Gameplay: Quick reaction button presses for fight scenes, dialogue choices advance the story and have consequences on it, and an occasional crime scene to investigate.
- Graphics: Solid, reminiscent of other Telltale titles. Gotham is dark and beginning to fall apart, but splashes of color make is still interesting to look at.
- Sound: Excellent voice acting nearly across the board.
- Presentation: Minimal UI helps keep the cinematic feel of the game alive.
- Deep source material
- Good potential with detective system
- Story has lots of room to grow
- Good voice acting
- Graphics are "meh"
- Bruce Wayne acting is not exciting
- Lots of set up