Title: Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode One: Realm of Shadows
Platform: PS4, PS3, Steam, Xbox 360, Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release date: Out now, but there is going to be a full disc release with a season pass, so you get each episode as they’re available. That’ll launch on September 13 for NA, and September 16 for EU.
tl;dr: “I know who Batman is and literally nobody else.”
Price: It seems to make you buy it as the season pass on Steam, so:
Steam: £19/$25/€23
PS: £5/$5/€6
Xbox: £5/$5/€6
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

I don’t like Batman, but I worship the ground Telltale Games walks on. After smash hits like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, then opting for slightly weirder endeavours like a Game of Thrones title and Tales From the Borderlands, we’re now left with a love letter to comic books fans, and not a whole lot else.

Telltale have made an excellent habit of “it ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.” Gameplay from its previous titles is mostly unchanged. You point, you click, and you look at stuff, then sit back and watch the story unfold. However, they’ve jazzed Batman up a bit by adding in the ability I’m calling BatVision – it somehow lets Bruce predict his moves, or piece together the scene of a crime. You examine points of interest, linking them together as you click between two points, and while it may not sound all that interesting, it’s a decent set up for a crime drama. It helps keep things fresh and keeps you relatively involved in the action.

The QTEs, though, are disappointing, namely in the fact that they mostly don’t matter. I’m largely unfamiliar with an Xbox controller, so I kept missing the button prompts, only to have Bats dodge the blow anyway. A couple of times, he did indeed get smacked about, but it mostly seemed not to matter. That was the thing I found about the choices, too. I’ve played other Telltale titles, I know how it works, and usually, they’re fairly pivotal: TWDG being the example here:

These choices just feel… weak. Break an arm, kill a mobster, give a press statement… nothing particularly thrilling or anything that makes me want to play on, though I do wonder what’ll happen if you choose to let CatWoman fall early on. This, I think, was my main problem with Telltale’s Batman: it’s a really beautifully animated game, a few issues with frame rate and lipsync aside, and a massive improvement from their earlier games, but…

I have no idea what’s going on. You’re expected to go into this game knowing full well who the cast are, which, aside from Tales from the Borderlands, wasn’t really an issue beforehand. Game of Thrones focused on a family who were never even in the books, The Wolf Among Us started from the beginning, and The Walking Dead had an entirely new cast separate from the comics and the show. It helped draw in new players and included them. Batman? I know who Bruce Wayne and Alfred are, and I think Harvey becomes Two Face at some point?  But that’s it. I’m not familiar with Gotham, and I know very little about Arkham Asylum and the threat it poses, yet the game is already assuming I do. Everything is built up with previous exposure to comics in mind, and that’s what’s putting me off. I’m not emotionally invested in these characters, but someone who’s followed Batman’s story from the beginning may well be. They’ll probably care about the episode’s plot, which is enthralling when I have to sit through three hours of Bruce freaking out about his dead parents maybe being mobsters. Thomas and Martha Wayne are just names to me, not characters.

In short:

The Good

  • Beautifully animated
  • Richard McGonagle as Falcone! <3
  • If this sells well, maybe TWAU will get Season 2

The Bad

  • If you don’t like Batman, you’ll be very confused
  • QTEs don’t really matter
  • It’s not TWAU Season 2


Family Focus

Blood, gore, swearing, violence… you can choose whether or not to break a mobster’s arm. It’s an 18 for a reason.

This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by Xbox UK