Telltale's Batman Review-in-Progress: Episode 1 - Realm of Shadows Impressions

Telltale’s narrative driven approach to storytelling makes the more action-oriented Batman an odd character to focus in on for a first dive into the superhero genre. Just looking at the caped crusader’s past few video game entries, action and fighting have always been a very strong focal point for Gotham’s masked vigilante. But how do you take all that and drop it into the narrative driven formula that Telltale uses for its games? The answer is; you don’t. Instead, you take the character, the universe, and the story and twist it, mold it, and shift it until it fits perfectly into your own style. That is exactly what Telltale has done with Batman, and, so far, the odds are in their favor.

The story picks up where one might expect any Batman story to pick up. A group of thugs are busy trying to break into City Hall, and Batman swoops in to save the day. Of course, Bruce’s persona is the bigger story here, and thus the episode is spent jumping between the Batman and Bruce Wayne, each character's issues slowly bleeding into the other. It’s a great look at how the things that Bruce must do as Batman affects him as a person, and vice versa. It’s a compelling way of exploring the dilemma of living two separate lives, and Telltale really captures the peril within it all.

The real spotlight on Bruce’s most recent story, however, is the mystery surrounding Thomas and Martha Wayne. Killed when he was just a child, Bruce’s parents have always been revered by the city of Gotham. After rumors are released to the press that the Wayne family has ties to the Mob, the family and its company’s integrity are called into question, and Bruce is left questioning everything he thought he knew about his parents and the legacy that they left behind when they died. It’s an intriguing string of plot that offers a lot of wiggle room and promise, and I’m excited to see where Telltale takes things in the next episode of the series.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Batman if we didn’t see any staple characters. Alongside popular villain, Catwoman, series staples, Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon (who is only a lieutenant in the story right now), and even mafia chieftain, Carmine Falcone. Alfred is also a fairly important character in the episode, and he continues on his path to try to dissuade Bruce from continuing his crusade against crime in Gotham, for fear that he will push himself into becoming a monster.

Aside from the unique narrative look at the Batman universe, Telltale’s Batman is already shaping up nicely within the character's world. While the main focus of the story isn’t on how badass Batman is, Telltale has done a great job with the combat sequences, and the story-driven choices that are littered throughout the narrative really help to push the character forward. Of course, this is only the first episode, so we’ll have to wait and see if the rest of the series stands up as well.

This review-in-progress is based on a game code provided by the developer. Telltale's Batman is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One today for $24.99. It is rated M.

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