Telltale Games is known for some of the best storytelling in the adventure genre. Games such as The Walking Dead Season 1 and Tales from the Borderlands have given players a level of expectation that can only be met with bigger, better stories. Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1: Realm of Shadows not only meets these expectations but lays down the foundation for future episodes and has the potential to be one of the best stories told by the developer. As always with Telltale Games, the ability to make split-second decisions and understand the consequences that will soon follow make playing through the story a real treat because how the characters react during the first play through may not be the way they react during the second playthrough. The ability to make decisions doesn’t just apply to the characters that players will interact with but also within the fight encounters. If one character fits the bill for a game like this – it’s Batman.
Continuity with a Twist
Usually when writing a review for a game, I include a narrative section to discuss a bit of the story as well as my thoughts about it. However, including such a section would spoil a huge chunk of this game and that is something I would not want to do. With that said, I would like to add a twist of my own.
By now, everyone who has ever read a Batman comic knows how and why Bruce Wayne dawns the cape and cowl. The game follows a young but established Batman, who is very self-aware of abilities as the protector of Gotham and is equipped with a plethora of gadgets to boot. It is worth nothing, without spoiling anything, that some of the familiar faces to this universe are present but with their own unique twists. While I consider myself knowledgeable in regards to the core of the Batman universe, Telltale Games’ vision for each of these characters has left me in a state of shock by how unpredictable that makes this series as a whole. Of course, this series can take a steep plunge from this point on but considering how well Realm of Shadows was put together, that is unlikely.
As a veteran to games developed by Telltale Games, there wasn’t a single surprise in regards to the gameplay. When interacting with characters in the game, I was presented with 4 choices that made me feel like I was in control of the outcome at all times. These choices are presented on the screen and players simply have to press the corresponding buttons (A, B, X, and Y) in order to see how the story unfolds. It is really refreshing to see how powerful my decisions were during the episode because it really separated Bruce Wayne from Batman. Playing as the caped crusader was just as much a treat as Gotham’s wealthiest bachelor.
Going into Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1: Realm of Shadows, it was hard to gauge the game’s trajectory in this area. Once I started using gadgets and fighting enemies, I felt more like a director of a blockbuster film than a person playing a video game. It is worth mentioning that the more consistent I was within the QTE (Quick Time Event) sequences, the stronger Batman came across while incapacitating the enemy. What was interesting to me was Telltale Games’ choice to include a meter which, when filled up, enables players to unleash a devastating move or event that immediately gains them the upper hand.
If you would like to see Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1: Realm of Shadows in action, please check out my colleague’s Let’s Play video below:
The biggest surprise was definitely the detective sequences. Having played games such Arkham Origins and Arkham Knight, I originally felt this part of the game would be the weakest. This was a bad assumption because playing the part of the detective was to Realm of Shadows as cheese is to a burger – they go great together. In fact, I found the detective sequences in this game to be much more in line with Batman than that of its Arkham counterparts. Credit should be given to Telltale Games as they have found a brilliant way to manage the 3 pillars of what make Batman who he is.
The developer’s interpretation of Gotham City is aesthetically pleasing. From rooftops to warehouses, Realm of Shadows has what fans have grown accustomed to – an unsafe and dangerous atmosphere. While there are at least 4 more episodes coming down the pipeline, my only complaint in this area was that the locations were limited to a handful. For example, the first thing that came to mind when I met Oswald Cobblepot (you guys know who he becomes), was the look of his hideout. It is inevitable that players will see locations like this and I understand the Telltale Games cannot play all their cards just yet, so this decision gets a pass. Having a few surprises makes any good game a better one.
Sound of Music
Correct me if I am wrong by leaving a comment down below but I can’t remember at any point in which the music scored for anything Batman was bad. Whether it was during a fight or an interrogation, the mood never seem to be ruined by the tracks chosen for this episode. If I had to compare the soundtrack to any of the others from Batman, it would be right up there with the score for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman by Danny Elfman.
The sound is just as good, if not better. Every smoke pellet that Batman used and punch he threw sounded as if they were actually happening. My absolute favorite part of Realm of Shadows – without spoiling anything – was a particular confrontation with Carmine Falcone that I am sure players will find entertaining. While the sound throughout the game is as stellar as it musical counterpart, the scene that I am referring to was easily the best part of the game due to the circumstances that players are presented with.
Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1: Realm of Shadows does a great job in getting the series off to a tremendous start. Telltale Games has proven it can handle known properties by creating stellar sound and music in addition to their unique vision. As always, story driven games require a great story and the developer definitely did not disappoint in this department. My only concern is that the quality and depth of the overall experience would somehow recede in future episodes. Nevertheless, the future looks bright until proven otherwise.
Realm of Shadows is episode 1 out of 5. So do not forget to check back with me in the coming months as there will be a review for each episode!
|+ Unique Story|
|+ Familiar Gameplay Experience|