Telltale’s Batman puts the Dark Knight’s playboy persona in the spotlight like few Gotham dwelling stories before it. Bruce Wayne is the hero of the first episode, no two ways about it. Batman gets his time to shine, but Wayne has the more compelling arc of the two.
Contrary to popular belief, Bruce Wayne and Batman are not one and the same. They’re two sides of the same coin, but far too often Batman takes centre stage and Wayne is pushed to the background, relegated to play a bit part. Not so in Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 1 Realm of Shadows.
Gotham’s favourite son is working with a pre-binary obsessed Harvey Dent on his mayoral campaign and to overhaul Arkham Asylum in honour of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Meanwhile, Selina Kyle and her alter-ego are causing headaches for both Wayne and Batman. The episode opens with a literal bang and quickly establishes itself as the most fast paced and action-packed title Telltale has released thus far. What Batman game would be complete without some hapless goons being beaten to a pulp? While in Telltale’s interpretation, action is, by and large, controlled via quicktime events, it feels somewhat organic. Life or death is always only a moment away for Batman and the quick reflexes required to successfully pull off many of the quicktime events really put the player into Batman’s big, black boots.
The action sequences are few and far behind, with one late in the episode showcasing Batman’s strategic mind rather than brute force. Though the latter is definitely in play. More prevalent is Bruce Wayne’s manoeuvring, decision making and sense of self. Much of the gameplay – like most Telltale titles – is based around conversations, carefully choosing responses and inevitably facing one or two enormous moral choices. What’s interesting in Realm of Shadows is how different it feels to play as Batman/Bruce Wayne. One scene in particular stands out as a moment when I dropped the “Bruce Wayne” party boy façade and instead embodied Batman, sans Batsuit.
Many familiar faces from the comics make an appearance in Real of Shadows with more than one alluding to a much larger role in episodes to come. One character in particular is a huge departure from the normal characterisation and has me intrigued with how their presence will impact both Bruce and Batman as the story progresses. Ultimately, Episode 1 sets us up for one hell of a good season and I can’t wait to see what happens in Episode 2.
Game Title: Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 1 "Realm of Shadows"
Gadgets - 7/10
Batmanness - 8/10
Bruce Wayness - 9/10