Batman: The Telltale Series Review (Episode One: Realm of Shadows)

Written by Jake Tucker

August 5, 2016 | 18:04

Tags: #adventure #batman #episodic #telltale

Companies: #telltale-games

Batman: The Telltale Series Review (Episode One: Realm of Shadows)

The unexpected gem here, however, was playing as Batman's alter ego, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. Wayne is a subtle guy, engaging mobsters with words and trying to shape Gotham with his massive personal fortune and the occasional razor sharp quip. Moulding the sort of Wayne you want to be is quite fun, and it's a testing time for him without a clearly defined correct choice. Wayne's friend and legendary District Attorney Harvey Dent is running for mayor of Gotham, and Wayne's funding the campaign. At the same time, rumours of the Wayne family's involvement with the mob have hit the press. There's a lot of decisions for you to make, and it's fairly compelling. Do you shake hands with a mobster? If you don't, he could withdraw his support from Dent's campaign, but if you do the papers will use the photo of you socialising with the mob boss on its front page, proof of its accusations against you.

Negotiating these choices is mostly a case of hitting the button prompt to choose what you want to say, although it can be tough to suss out the right conversational options as there's a timer ticking down and not every option will make Wayne, whether he's in his latex playsuit or not, say exactly what you select. This can feel a bit unfair, especially when the 'Character will remember that' pop-up swings into view, letting you know that you've gone and screwed up somewhere. As with the quick time events, the timer ticking down on dialogue choices just goes to show that Batman: The Telltale Series is a game that demands your focus at all times, and failing to pay attention for a few moments could have severe consequences, even if they're hours down the line.

Batman: The Telltale Series Review (Episode One: Realm of Shadows)

The writing has been good so far, with a lot of Bat-family regulars popping their heads in during the first part just to whet your appetite for the later episodes. These characters are all handled quite well, especially Catwoman, who meets you for the first time in a fight on the rooftop. In true Catwoman style she leaves you looking rather silly, giving you a deep scratch on your face as she departs with your grappling hook and swings to safety anchored to the underside of a Gotham monorail carriage.

One of the best scenes in Batman's first episode is when you're reacquainted with her as she sits down across from you as DA Harvey Dent's girlfriend. She pegs Bruce Wayne as the Bat immediately, courtesy of the scratch across his face, while the black eye you delivered in return makes her an easy mark too. The following conversation is tense, duplicitous, and everything good that we've come to expect from Telltale's storytelling after a string of successes.

Batman: The Telltale Series Review (Episode One: Realm of Shadows)

All of the characters are handled with deftness and respect, with the one real change being Oswald Cobblepot, otherwise known as The Penguin. This character has been through the pop-culture wringer here, appearing as a young, fired up revolutionary that's relevant to the 'Ooccupy' era, but his enraged calls to bring the entire system down are a distant cry from the calm-mannered Oswald Cobblepot of high society that appears in other media. Cobblepot wears a top hat and tails and owns a club called the Iceberg Lounge most of the time in the comics, so his portrayal here is jarring, but I'm curious to see where they take it.

It's only the first episode, so it's impossible to judge the full worth of the game - similar to the way we reviewed Hitman earlier this year. However, while Hitman was a great game aiming at the sky, Batman: The Telltale Series is merely a decent game that's going to have to work quite hard not to fall from grace. At the moment, it's one just for the fans, whether that's of Telltale or the Dark Knight himself.
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