BATMAN – THE TELLTALE SERIES [Episode 1 Review]: Realm of Shadows.
As much has been publicized about playing as Bruce Wayne in Telltale Games’ new Batman episodic series, players will still have plenty of control of the Bat. What’s chiefly cool about playing as The Caped Crusader (because we’ll be talking plenty of Mr. Wayne in just a sec), is all of the cool gadgets on display. Not only do players have the choice of color-coating their own weapons and tech (I chose yellow over purple, red, and blue chiefly because of the new DC Rebirth design that is accented with yellow), but Bat’s array of weapons are a swift mix of those remembered in Tim Burton’s 1989 classic Batman flick and the high-gadgetry introduced in Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated. Finally, something that makes QTE (quick time events) slightly acceptable.
While I’m not the biggest fan of Troy Baker‘s silly meathead roaring rendition of The Bat, I’m a huge fan of his Bruce Wayne. Who’d a thunk that arguably the second best guy to voice The Joker in a video game (behind Luke Skywalker, of course) would make for a pretty good Wayne? He actually doesn’t sound too far off Kevin Conroy’s version, while not trying as gruffily hard on the Bat-side, as say Roger Craig Smith (the man who voiced Batman in Arkham Origins, while Baker played Joker). But yet while Smith emulated Conroy–or more apropos, Christian Bale–for the Dark Knight, Baker comes up with a voice of his own that nearly sounds like a far sillier, poor man’s version of a cowled up Batfleck. I almost chuckled in disbelief whenever Baker’s version of Bats lost his shit. Laura Bailey (Tales From the Borderlands) is captiviating as dangerous sex-kitten Selina Kyle, but none of the other voice actors really stand out.
Thankfully, Bruce Wayne is the name of the game–which makes entire sense, seeing how Telltale’s games are point-and-click, with lots of interpersonal dialogue and politically motivated exchanges. For those not familiar with this game genre, your conversational choices affect your relationships with other characters and even the plot itself. A cool bit on Telltale’s part is showing players the percentage of their choices in comparison to other players. I think only one of my dialogue decisions defied the odds, as my Bruce was sort of the World’s Greatest Impatient-Yet-Loyal Detective. For those who shun how lame some of the detective work can be in Arkham games (with “Detective Mode” you can see stuff!), there’s plenty of juicy, realistic CSI/Dexter crime scene stuff to toy around with here.
How players will judge Batman: The Telltale Series will really depend on how much they love Batman, are/aren’t sick of his origin story, and how much they enjoy playing Telltale Games. There’s quite a bit more action in here for a game made by the publisher, but that won’t necessarily bring diehard Arkham fans to their knees. I think I only died twice in my first playthrough of Episode 1, and some of the required actions were ultra lenient. For instance, I had at least 5-seconds or more to press two buttons simultaneously for a “finishing move” — many of which ended up no more than a.. friggin’ Batslap? Too easy. Still, the beautiful comic-book inspired graphics, tense music, and jaw-dropping turn of events should be enough for any Gotham geek to come back for more.
The first episode of Batman: The Telltale Series, “Realm of Shadows”, is available for Xbox One/Xbox 360, PlayStation 4/PS3, PC/Mac, and iPhone/Android download right now. And don’t forget to keep this link BOOKMARKED for more reviews on future episodes!