Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 1: Realm of Shadows (PC) Review

By Ofisil 04.09.2016

Review for Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 1: Realm of Shadows on PC

Few comic book fans don't love Batman - not because of how cool he is, but, rather, due to him being a superhero whose character has been examined from many different angles. Therefore, it's only natural that the choose-your-path style of the Telltale games will fit like a black, spiky, leather glove here, leaving gamers to decide whether they want to be a "clean" Caped Crusader, a brooding and aggressive Dark Knight, or simply be BATMAAAN! After going through the PS4 version, Cubed3 takes a look at how the World's Greatest Detective fares on PC.

Superhero storywriters tend to be a tad "afraid" to go one step beyond and try something new. Batman has been a victim of that trend for far too long, maybe more than any other American comic character. Fans have seen his battler/friend/foster parent Alfred argue with his night shift work a hundred times, his conflicts with the, otherwise trustworthy Commissioner Gordon one thousand times, and the death of his parent at least a googolplex times.

Although comic book nerds moan and grumble about these, though, they still come back to enjoy it all - and how could they not. Repetitive as this might seem, the "standard" ingredients of a good tale from Gotham seem to always do the trick, and, as for the tale at hand, it also follows the conventional Year One route: the Commissioner hasn't become Batman's vigilante-bro yet, Harvey Dent is still an ally, Catwoman is new to town, and Falcone is free to do his biznez as usual.

Screenshot for Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 1: Realm of Shadows on PC

Visually, Batman: The Telltale Series uses the same, cel-shaded style the developer always uses, and… it doesn't look that impressive here. It looks good, sure, and at times pretty cool, but something feels missing. Initially, the problem seems to be the overabundance of segments involving Bruce Wayne, which all look quite bland, unlike the Batman parts, which quite possibly due to the contrast that the night creates (as well as the much faster pacing), look so much better, not to mention that… well, it's Batman for Bob Kane's sake!

The main problem, however, seems to be the effort to include a little bit of everything Bat-related (not rabies), and at the same time balance things out, which results in nothing really making an impression. From the Batman suit and Lamborghini/Batmobile, to the way the city is designed, this won't be remembered as some past Batman adventures have, and the perfect example is Bruce himself. In order to not stand out, and, thus, let gamers "decide" who he really is, Telltale has designed him as the complete epitome of the tall, dark man… and the result? A clone of Sterling Archer! Minus the affinity for being an idiot, of course.

Screenshot for Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 1: Realm of Shadows on PC

Now, while all those games are 99% narration and plot, and 1% action, few - if any - will be remembered for their interactive parts, and, unfortunately, the action here is underwhelming at best. Fighting goons just requires pressing the direction that flashes on the screen when necessary, and, most of the time, failing to do so won't really matter that much. Oh, and as a side note, pressing 'A' to open a door when there is nothing else to do is not a choice… unless leaving Batman staring at it for eternity counts as one.

The team has tried to spice things up with a little bit of detective work, which translates to linking together clues at a crime scene to help Batman understand what really happened, which is quite the promising concept, but fails because it's easy to see that it's nothing more than a speed bump; it's impossible not to connect the right dots, and even if that happens, a few more minutes… and done! Next cut-scene, please. The same system is used before the final "major" battle of this episode. Batman has to forge a plan of attack, but it's exactly like the "detective" section - an illusion of choice.

Screenshot for Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 1: Realm of Shadows on PC

Now, doesn't the main theme sounds a bit too… Hans Zimmer-ish? Well, it turns out that, the whole thing smells like Christopher Nolan's cinematic bat-fest, and especially that masterpiece named The Dark Knight… so much, in fact, that it's strange that the Joker didn't make an appearance in the - awesome - introduction scene, where some mercenaries are breaking into City Hall. Long story short, this is more like a political thriller, rather than a "pure" superhero storyline, which, depending on the viewer, can either be a bad or a good thing, due to the fact that before Batman gets to show up, there will be a lot of Bruce Wayne. A. Lot.

Is the story offered here a good one, though? In all honesty, it's great, yet it feels like an intro, and not a mouth-watering one, because, similar to its look, Realm of Shadows doesn't really innovate plot-wise. Moreover, the typical flaws of the developer's choice-and-consequence system are still here. This masterfully enables deciding what kind of Batman Bruce will be (Adam West version not an option), but none of the choices available can really alter things at all, besides a few new lines of different dialogue or two. Hopefully, the moral crossroads of the upcoming episodes will really affect the outcome of the Caped Crusader's latest adventure.

Screenshot for Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 1: Realm of Shadows on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

It will be impossible for Batman aficionados to not enjoy the first episode of Batman: The Telltale Series. However, while it's a very enjoyable amalgamation of all things Batman, it doesn't manage to stand out, or be original in terms of story. More importantly, it repeats the developer's frequent mistakes; boring QTEs, and useless (although immersive) "choose the answer" dialogue sequences and all. It's a good, promising episode, but it could be so much better.

Developer

Telltale

Publisher

Telltale

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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