In a digital space completely dominated by Rocksteady Studios, Telltale has decided to throw their hat into the ring. Albeit in an incredibly different experience, but still one worth enjoying for any Bat-fan.
Realm of Shadows is the first episode of Telltale’s new point-and-click-narrative adventure game. It stars voice actor Troy Baker as the man himself, who is backing friend Harvey Dent’s mayoral campaign amongst the turmoil of crime boss Carmine Falcone and his late night stints as Batman.
This is the first episode of a five episode season, and so acts almost entirely as 2 hours of set up. There’s plenty of exposition, character introductions and mysterious plot points that does unfortunately bog down this episode, but subsequently sets up plenty to come. Several new ideas and twists on classic characters kept the intrigue going, even for a seasoned bat-fan myself. While not every alteration from the comics work (Harvey Dent looks closer to Bane than Two-Face), it still indicates Telltale has a relatively solid grasp on what makes good Batman and indicates plenty interesting to come.
As for the gameplay, there is little new in the way of the Telltale formula but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The quick time events lives up to the ‘quick’ in its name and blends into some fluid and stylish combat, although Telltales engine does struggle with janky animations at times. Much of the dialogue choices seem meaningful and relatively well-written in typical Telltale fashion, even if this episode in particular struggle with heavy-handed exposition. The biggest departure is in Telltale’s attempt to live up to Batman’s mantle as ‘the world’s greatest detective’ through the investigation of crime scenes. Evidence can be scanned and linked to give a sense of accomplishment to the task, but in episode one its not used enough to amount to anything just yet.
The voice acting sadly was the most disappointing element of Realm of Shadows. Telltale is typically affiliated with stellar performances, but Troy Baker does virtually nothing to distinguish his Bruce Wayne from the countless other voice actors, which is thoroughly disappointing considering his calibre. The rest of the cast fares a bit better – Enn Reitel’s Alfred is just the right amount of class and stoicism, Richard McGonagle’s Falcone makes a solid impression, and Laura Bailey’s Catwoman is equal parts tough and seductive. Travis Willingham’s take on Harvey Dent doesn’t quite sit right with me for now, but will hopefully grow in future episodes.
A promising start to a project I was immensely excited for, Realm of Shadows may struggle with too much set-up and the occasional glitches but still delivers what I was hoping and promises plenty more quality Bats to come.
Casual Gamer: Recommended
Hardcore Gamer: Recommended
Narrative-drivers: Highly Recommended