Although the Arkham series of games from Rocksteady allowed players to play as Batman, Batman: The Telltale Series lets players become Batman. And that’s the appeal of all most Telltale Games that allows players to get inside characters heads and make choices that affect everything.
The first episode of Batman: The Telltale Series, “Realm of Shadows” is more a story about Bruce Wayne than Batman, although the line gets blurred between the two often. The decisions Bruce must make are tough, and it’s highly likely that no one decision is every really the right one. That’s typical of Telltale’s writing style, because every dialogue choice means taking those characters farther down the rabbit hole. And what’s at the end of that tunnel is rarely good.
This gameplay works well with the character of Bruce because he’s always made the hard choices: where does he draw the line on violence? How does he respond to attacks against his family name? Who does he trust in a city where everyone is for sale? These are all decisions players must make in Batman: The Telltale Series.
The emotional depth found in games such as Telltale’s The Walking Dead, though, feels missing here. But part of the problem is that this is just one episode and there’s more to come: players must look at the episode like an issue of a comic book and understand that some issues will have more impact than others. This is the beginning of the story and it’s likely that the next two episodes will include more of an emotional connection for players. But in this first episode, Bruce Wayne isn’t Clementine, and often seems cold and distant: he’s a harder character to sympathize with, especially when he doesn’t always make good choices.
The rest of the game is brilliant, though: from the dark comic book-styled art to the voice acting (and Uncharted players will find themselves happy at a few familiar voices that pop up in the game). The voice actors are all good, but the stand-out is Laura Bailey as Catwoman, a character who often comes across as cheesy in other animated properties, but here she sounds believable.
This game also has a lot of action for a straight-up RPG with an opening scene that will keep players on the edges of their seats, even though it involves some imaginative button-smashing. Action is never dull or boring, though: Telltale balances it out well with how it chooses to approach gameplay.
Batman also gets to stretch his detective skills by linking clues together left at crime scenes. It’s not as involved as in the Arkham games, but it actually works better in The Telltale Series in that the detective work isn’t as complicated, but still involves some critical thinking.
Batman: The Telltale Series is off to a good start with “Realm of Shadows” and here’s hoping players won’t have to wait too long for the next issue of this comic book-turned video game.
Rating: (4 / 5)
Note: FanGirlConfessions.com received a review copy of Batman: The Telltale Series for PlayStation 4.