Telltale is at it again with their newest episodic adaptation of Batman. Batman: The Telltale series episode 1- Realm of Shadows puts the decisions, detective work and adventures of the caped crusader and puts it in the hands of the player using their signature mix of point and click gameplay and quick time events. Being a long term fan of the development team and publisher, could I be impressed yet again by their newest series, or would this be a miss in a long line of home runs?
Anyone who is familiar with a Telltale series, such as: Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Wolf Among Us or even Minecraft: Story Mode, will find themselves at home with the gameplay and style of Realm of Shadows. The game doesn’t waste any time starting the game with a series of quick time events that put us as Batman stopping the snarky, quick witted Catwoman from committing larceny. Throughout the episode, the gameplay involves the player alternating between Bruce Wayne’s life as the playboy philanthropist and “The World’s Greatest Detective”. You need to interact with other characters in Bruce’s life and make decisions that determine how characters feel about you, how the media feels about you and who is your ally and involved in your life. You also interact with your environment and investigate crime scenes, make connections between pieces of evidence to determine what has happened and even get into a quick time fight or two while wearing the iconic suit all while your trusty friend and butler, Alfred, guides and chides you about finding balance in your life.
There are no shortages of well-known Batman characters in this game. You interact with the likes of Vicki Vale, Harvey Dent, Catwoman and even Oswald Cobblepot. While some of their backstories are taken creative liberties with, their personalities shine through and will put a smile on any Batman fan’s face. I know I had a huge grin on my face whenever I met and had conversations with a different Batman character I have loved since my childhood watching the animated series and reading the comics. It helps that the look is very much stylized and resembling that of a comic book.
The only point in the gameplay I did not enjoy was the use of the “batputer” codex system. I see how it would be useful for someone who is not familiar with the universe or characters of Batman, but other than that, I felt it was mostly unnecessary. This feature did not ruin or take me out of the experience, though. I used the codex when prompted and moved on as quickly as the game allowed to get me to the next part of the story.
The story is where Telltale has always and continues the shine. Because the story is the most important part of the game, I won’t explain too much about the story, but it had me biting my nails and shouting by the end because I just wanted more. Without spoiling the story, you are Bruce Wayne and you must balance your life as Batman and Bruce as best you can while making discoveries about the past and deciding how you will effect other’s futures. Will you be a good friend to Harvey Dent? Will you reunite with your old school friend? Will you trust Vicki Vale? Will you disappoint Alfred? All of these plot points and more are in store for your play through of Realm of Shadows and more.
Overall, this is a strong entry in Telltale’s resume. I was deeply immersed in the story and enjoyed the gameplay and style enough to want more. While this is not as strong as The Walking Dead: Season One, it is still a must play for loyal Telltale and Batman fans alike.