Batman Ep. 1 Realm of Shadows Review: What Lurks in the Night

August 6th, 2016 -

The highly acclaimed story tellers at Telltale are back with their venture into the DC universe with Batman – The Telltale Series. Not their first venture into the comic world, obviously, but one of the most well-known around the world. Bruce will face many familiar faces, but go up against a secret that could change Batman forever.

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This series offers an all new story (although expect to see plot points that have been used to death if you’re familiar with Batman), with many faces even a casual fan will recognize. In the first episode alone you’ll come across Selina, Falcone, Dent, and more. While none of them play a part that will be surprising to the player, they play their roles well.

In typical Telltale style, you can expect to do a lot of quick time events, particularly in battles. There will also be the usual dialogue options and minimal movement/exploration. If it’s not broke, why fix it (although framerate is always an issue in Telltale games…)? The game does take a page out of recent Sherlock games by linking evidence together to come up with theories, as well as planning out a battle by linking enemies to objects, which is fun to see come to fruition. Also new to a Telltale game is the mechanic of crowd play, which is a feature that lets people use an online enabled device to vote on the options that the player will be deciding on. This mechanic is meant to be local, sadly, as most options are time sensitive and don’t work well with the lag on a service like Twitch (I tried, which you can see in the full stream of the episode at the bottom).

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The introduction of the game goes between a typical Batman fight and a conversation with Alfred about how Bruce can’t continue pushing himself to the limit. It serves as a great juxtaposition and really gives a feel for the dual lives that you have to face. The majority of your time in the game seems to be as Bruce, who is tasked with helping DA Harvey Dent run for mayor. That means throwing a party, rubbing shoulders with people you wouldn’t normally talk to, and dealing with press conferences. While Bruce doesn’t run into too much physical trouble outside of the suit, he has plenty of encounters with danger.

While the QTEs work as well in this as they do in, say, The Wolf Among Us, I had a hard time enjoying the battle on the rooftop at the end of the introduction. While the game is meant to be more or less an interactive comic, having played as the Night in the Rocksteady games, I feel like this game’s strength lies in Bruce. Playing the role of a businessman is somehow more enticing than beating up a bunch of goons. Of course, there are parts that Batman make fun, such as detective mode and interrogations. But overall the scripted action seems to be lacking something.

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The story doesn’t feel all that engaging for the first half or so, as it all seems like standard fare. However, once the allegations start in at the press conference, leading to the police ransacking Wayne Manor and ending with a startling discovery at the end, it’s hard to not be excited for the next episode. The game also portrays Gotham in a much more violent manner. People are burned from the inside out, clawed to death, and there is plenty of blood throughout. While this isn’t Snyder’s murderverse, you can make Batman do what he wouldn’t in the cartoon. The Bat can be the hero Gotham deserves, or he can be the one that it needs.

Telltale’s entry into Gotham City comes as a mixed bag. On the one hand, if you’ve played a Telltale game you know what you’re getting into, and if you’ve merely watched Batman on the silver screen you have a pretty good idea of what’s going on storywise. While the action occasionally feels stunted by the formula, there are some moments that are tensely satisfying and worth wondering about, even if it only ends up being a red herring in future episodes.

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Pros

  • Story Twist
  • Bruce Wayne

Cons

  • Standard Plot
  • QTE Doesn’t Always Translate Well

Batman – A Telltale Series was developed and published by Telltale Games. The game launched on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 August 2nd, 2016 for $24.99 ($4.99 for the first episode) digitally. The game will also be out on other platforms in the future including last gen systems and mobile devices. The retail version of the game will cost $29.99 and works the same as the season pass. The game was provided to us for review on X1. If you’d like to see more of Batman – A Telltale Series, check out the official site.

For those that wish to see a playthrough of the first episode, you can watch the stream below that was recorded hours before this review was written. Due to its violent nature and mature rating, we ask that you only watch it if you are 17 years old or older.

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

  • Wow, no commentary on the stream? It’s like we’ve got a pleb at the wheel. What kind of scrublord doesn’t get the adapters for an xbolx mic?

    Comment by DavidB on August 6, 2016

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