Batman’s first episode, Realm of Shadows introduces us to the world that this Batman /Bruce Wayne inhabit and lets us explore it. The dynamic between Batman and Bruce Wayne has always been one of the more interesting facets when it came to Batman. The relationship between the two of them makes it seem to me like they’re playing a chess match against one another, and they know each other’s moves. If that’s the case, than in Realm of Shadows, Bruce is setting up the board.
In typical Telltale fashion, the game is broken down into chapters. Some chapters will find yourself as the caped crusader, while others will focus on Bruce Wayne and all of the politics that accompany being an eccentric billionaire. Players will be spending the majority of the first episode doing the latter, meeting characters in social settings to progress the story forward. At first I thought that it would be jarring, jumping from Wayne to Batman. I thought it would feel like I was a Power Ranger, and when it was time to suit up, you knew it was going to be a big, action set-piece. I’m pleasantly surprised that Telltale manages to make both Batman and Bruce Wayne’s sections enjoyable.
As Bruce Wayne, you’ll be schmoozing politics, meeting old friends, and more throughout the first episode. One of the opening scene finds Bruce alongside friend and Mayor hopeful, Harvey Dent. You’ll spend a good chunk of the episode side by side Dent as you meet with wealthy donors, crime bosses, reporters and more. The interactions and choices you make with these characters will influence the game later on. Again, in typical Telltale fashion, it’s more of an illusion of choice thing than anything else. Choices I made in the beginning of the episode, didn’t really impact the end. Will be interesting to see if they have any bearing on future episodes. I liked what Telltale does with Bruce in episode one. They’re setting up all the pieces on the board, introducing us to characters, choosing us to make alliances, and more.
I Am The Night … and I’m Here To Talk
As Batman, this is where the game gets a bit more interesting. Telltale has added some new, welcomed mechanics to the game. My favorite of these is when Batman investigates a crime scene and then “links” the pieces of evidence together. As the world’s greatest detective, it’s cool to see a feature that was so prominent in the Arkham series, find its way into a Telltale game. It’s barebones, and don’t expect to be stumped by any of the “links,” but it’s cool to see the detective side of Batman.
Other than that, it’s a typical Telltale affair. Lots of scripted, cinematic, quick time events. I did enjoy that they were asking you to be on your toes more than usual, by giving you a lot more QTE’s to hit than normal. You’re also building up this meter that allows you to perform a finishing move. This meter always filled up for me, so i’m not sure what happens if it doesn’t. There’s a few other tweaks here and there and for the most part, they’re all welcome.
I found myself really engaged with Realm of Shadows. One of my biggest complaints with the first episode as I played it was that this has all been done before. Harvey Dent, Cobblepot, Falcone, the dead parents; nothing’s new. As I dove deeper though, and with the questions /accusations that the game brings up during its conclusion, I’m on board to see where the story goes.
A Telltale Story… With Telltale Problems
I really wish that the technical side of things went smoothly during my time with Batman: A Telltale Series. I’m playing the game on PC, and it was a nightmare when I first booted it up. For starters, the game defaults to windowed mode with a resolution of 768 … sure. There’s also no prompts in the settings menu that lets you know when your changes are taking effect. Meaning, I switched it to full screen and 1080 but didn’t know how to apply those settings. Turns out, my game was just glitched … great.
Remember that “finishing move” I was talking about earlier. Well the QTE that accompanies it (for me it was A+RT) wouldn’t work. Game wasn’t having it. I failed that section about five times before I realized that the QTE would work when I hit A+LT. Seriously, the game is telling me to do one thing, and I didn’t work until I did another. Another problem I ran into was in the Batcave while examining the computer. The game zooms you in to get a better look at the information on screen, but my “back out” prompt never showed up, leaving me in a state of limbo. At this point I shouldn’t be surprised with the technical issues that plague most of Telltale games, but without some tinkering … Batman: The Telltale Series was unplayable for me and that’s unacceptable.
Technical issues aside, I really enjoyed the first episode of Batman. I think what they’re doing with both the Batman and Bruce Wayne sections of the game are engaging, and I like the new mechanics that were added for the Batman sections. Story wise, the first episode plays it very close to the vest, introducing us to characters who we’ve seen dozens of times before. However, It does a a great job raising questions about the Wayne’s and those questions are ones that I want to know the answers to. I’m excited to see where the series goes in the next episode. The board is set, the pieces are in place, and now it’s time to play.
A PC copy of Batman: The Telltale Series was provided by the publisher. To learn more about our score, read our review policy.