Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 1 Review
- Story hits the ground running.
- Handles Bruce Wayne superb.
- Captures the world of Batman.
- Graphics are impressive.
- Being Batman leads to some impressive moments.
- Audio drops are fairly frequent.
- Framerate suffers throughout.
- Batman choices are not as intense or as thought provoking as Bruce's
Batman is the latest series by Telltale Games tackling a similar episodic approach to telling The Dark Knight’s story. The question on all our minds is Episode 1: Realm of Shadows “a good time worthy of the Batman name?” Let’s find out!
Batman see’s you step into the armour of the caped crusader himself as he works to fight Gotham’s criminals from within the shadows, while at the same time fighting a battle in politics are Bruce Wayne by supporting Harvey Dent’s campaign to become mayor of Gotham. The story on offer for the first episode is gripping, it has just the right level of Batman Mythos as well as enough originality. Characters like Harvey Dent, Catwoman and Carmine Falcone are all as you would expect, however, Oswald Cobblepot takes on a completely new look and style for this series and is done so well that you almost don’t mind.
Navigating Telltale Games’ standard choice based conversations and knowing that the whole world is watching you as Bruce Wayne lends a sense of pressure to the character, you are after all supposed to be Gotham City’s celebrity golden son. As Bruce you feel the pressure of Gotham City bearing down on you as your choices are scrutinized by the press and citizens of Gotham. While playing as Batman, your choices are scrutinized by the GCPD, as Batman in this universe while helping Gordon out and supplying him with information, is not liked by the GCPD.
As Batman however the game’s choices don’t feel as tough to make. It feels as though not as much thought was given to the choices Batman has to make as they often boil down to “Do I brutalize this thug, or do I just subdue him” It is obvious what the right call is and it seems that half of the time the choice is there mostly just to give you an alternate choice.
Where the game does excel when playing Batman however is in the activities you can undertake. You are given the chance to become a detective and solve crime scenes, it is as simple as connecting the dots but offers a grim sense of satisfaction when you piece together a particularly gruesome scene. Also Batman is given the chance toward the end of the episode to plan his attack. It is something undeniably simple, as all you do is connect the enemies in the area with various appliances around them, from coffee tables to guard rails. But when you are finished planning and see Batman roll into an area and dispatch enemies according to the plan you just created it definitely elicits a nerdy “Oh yeah!” from me.
Combat is entirely handled via QTE and depending on the player that is either a good or a bad thing, it is cool to see Batman flip around, blocking punches and throwing stuff at criminals but time spent playing other titles like Rocksteady Games’ brilliant Batman Arkham series leaves me wanting more for the combat than a QTE fest that we have seen Telltale Games do before.
The soundtrack is fairly decent, it fits the world but no tracks really stood out to me, it is serviceable but not memorable, the voice acting is on point with Troy Baker lending his voice to the caped crusader. It is a good voice cast and they all do their jobs well but there are no performances that will make your jaw drop.
My biggest issue and one that spoiled one of the high points of the episode for me personally, is the games performance. The frame rate tends to jump around like a child on 50kg of sugar and the audio can sometimes cut from a scene, taking away the impact of some of the more intense moments. Choppy frame rate and audio issues wouldn’t bother me if they were few and far between but I had three cases of audio drop outs and the framerate is choppy throughout.
The visuals on display however, are still damn good looking even with the framerate issues. The game looks like a moving comic book and is a definite step up from Telltale Games’ efforts with Game of Thrones. Character models are detailed, the environments all look accurate to what you would expect and the delightfully dark moments all look grisly and much more adult than what we have been given over the years.
Batman Episode 1: Realm of Shadows is a damn good time, especially for fans of the character and the mythos, however a few technical blemishes and a few cases of playing it safe fails to make it an outstanding release, that being said, the game is still a strong title and I am eagerly anticipating the next episode.