Game: BATMAN – The Telltale Series: Realm of Shadows
Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 (Reviewed), PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Android, iOS
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
As the first episode of BATMAN – The Telltale Series, Realm of Shadows introduces a twisting story of justice, politics, and relationships. While it often leans more towards Bruce Wayne than the caped crusader, the episode does a decent job of making you feel like the billionaire superhero. It’s a shame then that even with the new engine, the game stutters enough to pull you out of the experience.
If you’ve played a Telltale game before, you will feel right at home. By and large, the gameplay remains the same. You make choices to create your own version of Bruce Wayne and Batman as you make your way through the story.
As Wayne, you are tasked with making tough decisions for every little action. Harvey Dent is running for mayor, and you act as his main supporter. The voice acting is all really well done with very natural delivery. The choices are all very political. This is where Telltale truly shines. Depending on how your respond, you can do what’s best for Dent, Gotham, or you. Every option has its consequences which leaves you wondering whether you made the right choice or not.
The Batman segments rely much less on choice, but contain much more innovation from previous Telltale series. At first, these segments are full of action, with your only choices being how you want your fight to play out and how brutal you want to be. However, in later segments you truly get to feel like the world’s greatest detective. After heading to a crime scene, you enter Telltale’s version of detective mode. Here, you must gather the evidence and piece it together in order to figure out what happened. While admittedly simple in Realm of Shadows we have a feeling this will be expanded upon in later episodes. This holds true for the planned attack sequences as well. Here, you unleash a drone to provide you with a new perspective on an enemy-filled room. With the drone, you pick out the enemies and select the way you want to take them down. From here, you get to play through the action sequence in a more typical Telltale fashion.
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What holds Realm of Shadows back from being a great introduction to BATMAN – The Telltale Series is that the game runs pretty rough. Even with a new engine under the hood, it can’t seem to handle the camera panning across a crown of moving people. The movement is jagged and distracts you just enough to remind you that you’re playing a game. This is a shame since the game looks beautiful, and when it does run well, the story immediately pulls you back in. We were hoping that all this would be fixed with the new engine, but for now it’s more of the same.
Even so, we are still very much excited for what Telltale is doing. BATMAN – The Telltale Series brings a lot of innovation that we hope comes to future series. Crowd Play is a new feature that allows you to play the game in a new way with a group of friends. Depending on the mode, they can either make suggestions on which choices to pick, or choose by live voting on each answer. All this is done with a new companion app that syncs up with the game. Additionally, Telltale is releasing Batman Unmasked which is a recap series hosted by Greg Miller. Here he will interview various people behind the game and give you more insight on the series.
Realm of Shadows marks a good entry point for BATMAN – The Telltale Series. It allows us to not only play as one of our favorite heroes, but experience life as billionaire Bruce Wayne as well. Because of the political nature of the story, Telltale has created some of the toughest decisions for the smallest of conversations. As Batman, we get a taste of what’s to come with some truly innovative segments. Even though the game stutters a bit, we feel this series is definitely worth checking out for the story alone. There is certainly no better way to play as Bruce Wayne.