Developer Telltale Games Publisher Telltale Games
Genre Adventure Platform Played On PC
Realm of Shadows, the first episode of Batman – The Telltale Series, begins with an action packed sequence of Batman taking out a bunch of henchmen trying to break into an office building. There are noticeably more quick time events (QTEs) with less time between them allowing me to feel more in-control of influencing Batman’s actions than in action sequences from other Telltale games. The speed also helps to emphasise Batman’s martial arts training. It’s in this first sequence that were are introduced to some key players in Batman’s life: Jim Gordon, still a Lieutenant, and a first encounter with Catwoman. Telltale’s Batman story is set early in the caped crusader’s career, but it’s smart in assuming the audience already knows who these characters are.
The story then transitions to Bruce Wayne, conversing with Alfred about the limits of Batman while being stitched up. It’s a familiar exchange for Batman representations outside of the comic books, with Alfred not entirely happy that Bruce is Batman. It’s a question I feel is going to be asked to the player a lot during the five episode series: how far are you willing to go as Batman? Telltale presents moral dilemmas so well, especially in The Walking Dead, and that carries over to Realm of Shadows. Already players are being asked what they are willing to do as Batman to protect Gotham. It’s one of the most intriguing parts of the Batman ethos, but errs on the side of repetition across the two hour episode. In fact, it feels like it’s all Alfred does in Realm of Shadows.
Thankfully, Enn Reitel does a fine job of giving emotion to Alfred’s pleas, as do the rest of the voice cast bringing life to the characters. Troy Baker is great as Batman and Bruce Wayne. Having worked together previously on Tales from the Borderlands, the few exchanges between Batman and Catwoman (Laura Bailey) are engaging and capture the playful undertones of their relationship. The rest of the voice cast are great too, adding their own touches to beloved characters.
I also really liked the costume design. Batman’s costume has a nice mix between modern and retro design. Telltale’s signature style has been improved once again, with the night scenes bringing out the glow from Batman’s cowl and his gadgets.
Dialogue is a large portion of Telltale games, and Bruce Wayne has a majority of it in episode one. The middle act slows the pace down a bit as some key characters are introduced. Bruce Wayne meets Harvey Dent, currently running for Mayor, reporter Vicky Vale, Carmine Falcone and pre-penguin Oswald Cobblepot. Being able to determine how Bruce Wayne interacts with certain characters was fun, especially as a fan who’s been stuck reading and watching how others make him interact.
Realm of Shadows exists to set up the story to come, so I hope there are a few more action sequences in future episodes, but the time was split about 50/50 between playing as Batman and Bruce Wayne. As Batman there is the action sequence at the beginning and an action sequence at the end that allows you to choose how to take out four mobsters. There’s also a detective sequence in the middle that requires the player to link pieces of evidence together to work out what happened at a crime scene. It’s a fun sequence, highlighting Batman’s skills as a detective, but I would have preferred another action sequence to keep the pace from slowing too much in the middle.
Realm of Shadows is a solid beginning for Batman – The Telltale Series. Batman’s sequences are mostly action packed and the longer and faster quick time event sequences make you feel like you’re having a greater impact on Batman’s actions. Bruce Wayne takes on the bulk of the dialogue, introducing players to important characters and creating intriguing narrative mysteries at least for the next couple of episodes. Telltale is great at providing players with difficult moral choices, and there are definitely inklings of that here as Alfred constantly asks Bruce how far Batman will go. For the series to stand out, Telltale is going to have to let players answer that question on their own.
- Craft your own Batman/ Bruce Wayne
- Solid voice acting from most of the cast
- Batman action sequences
- Alfred’s nagging of Bruce failed to engage
- Slower pacing during the middle acts