Available On: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
We Played On: PC
I’m always excited about new Batman content, particularly the interactive kind, so I had both high hopes and deep fears about BATMAN: The Telltale Series. I want to see new and interesting content, but I also always want the Batman universe and the characters in it to be treated with respect and care. So far, BATMAN: The Telltale Series has lived up to my very high expectations in its first episode, Realm of Shadows.
Sometimes when creative teams are working on an old and beloved franchise they feel they have to do something extreme or shocking to set themselves apart, or to attempt to prove to their audience and fan base that they’re doing something exciting and fresh. However, shocking material is not the same as well thought-out or fantastically crafted material.
Given that I have encountered this mistake in some other Batman materials, I was extremely pleased to find that Telltale had not gone completely off the rails in this first episode. Instead they’re doing their own subtle, unique take on Batman and his world. You’ll see familiar faces. You’ll also see one face that doesn’t appear familiar at all. A well-known villain seems to have been taken in an interesting new direction. I look forward to seeing how their path plays out.
Realm of Shadows gives players a chance to move in two very different circles in Gotham City. As Bruce Wayne, you’re backing District Attorney Harvey Dent in his campaign for mayor. In Gotham, of course, this is more complicated than it seems, and that’s saying something given the nature of politics. As Batman, you’re trying to take down known mob boss Carmine Falcone, a slippery fellow who has eluded the police for quite some time. The player, as Batman and Bruce Wayne, gets to decide just how to go about working toward these goals.
Unexpectedly, I found myself preferring my time spent playing as Bruce Wayne rather than Batman. Making social choices and attempting to balance the man with the bat was an opportunity that I hadn’t encountered before in a Batman game. I think both long-time fans of Batman and those completely new to the franchise will enjoy this facet of BATMAN: The Telltale Series.
Realm of Shadows is only the first episode of five in this series, but it doesn’t feel like it’s just setting up the story. The episode hints at bigger questions and problems down the line while still having its own conflicts and mysteries to solve.
As usual in Telltale’s games, your main methods of interaction are in making dialogue choices. There are also some action sequences in quick time events. Additionally, you can wander certain areas exploring and examining things.
A gameplay aspect that I found especially fun was the crime scene investigation. As Batman, you find clues and can link them together in order to piece together a picture of what happened. It’s very reminiscent of Evidence Scanner from the Batman: Arkham game series, which is by no means a bad thing.
Though Batman content is often thought of as something for children to enjoy (and it can be) this game is rated M for Mature for violence, blood and gore, and language. Given the fairly brutal, grim nature of Realm of Shadows, I would certainly say that this is an accurate rating.
However, the current Batman comics (Batman, Batman: Detective Comics, etc.) not only match this level of violence, but often surpass it. If your child is allowed to read those, they may be fine playing BATMAN: The Telltale Series.
Overall I was very impressed with this first installment in BATMAN: The Telltale Series. It set the stage for the rest of the arc while still standing well on its own. It’s definitely something that you’ll want to play multiple times (I’m already thinking about which choices to make differently on my second playthrough), and will leave you wanting to spend more time in the shoes of the World’s Greatest Detective.