Review: Batman - Realm of Shadows
By Sean Booker
Aug 18, 2016 - 16:48
Studios: Telltale Games
Rating: M (Mature)
Platform: Mobile, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Players: 1 (2-4 through Crowd Play)
I reviewed this game on the Xbox One after having an almost unplayable experience on the PC version. There has been a patch to that version that I did have installed but it didn’t seem to help.
The first episode, Realm of Shadows, in this new Batman: the Telltale Series leans more onto the man under the mask and his questionable family history. This different focus on the character is certainly interesting. Unfortunately the game doesn’t introduce anything that unique from past adventure games and it ends up making the episode feel uninspired.
We have seen a lot of Batman games in the recent years so it’s welcoming that Telltale is taking a different approach to the caped crusader. There’s a much heavier focus on billionaire Bruce Wayne and how his family’s history ties into Gotham’s crime. More than half this episode involves the man dealing with Harvey Dent’s mayoral campaign and how this all ties into the Falcone’s mob. It’s also interesting to see some different takes of familiar faces. For example, The Penguin is an old childhood friend to Bruce and has grown into a lanky street thug. These changes help keep the narrative fresh despite the stale gameplay.
If you’ve played any of Telltale’s last few series then you aren’t in for any surprises this time. The same narrative focused, branching choices-based system is present. The game doesn’t appear to look any different either; the same cell-shaded aesthetics is used throughout. The usual quick time action is also here but, this time, doesn’t really change anything if you miss. Not hitting the command doesn’t seem to change the outcome - Batman will still break the window or punch the guy regardless. This was odd to see since it made every fight seem meaningless. It appears as if the developer made the game even easier for players to progress through. This episode also featured very few binary decisions that had me at a standstill. It’s a shame that the gameplay is not only stale but easier than ever.
One small addition that this series has is the inclusion of Crowd Play. This allows spectating players to log in with their phones and help make choices as they pop up. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test this since I played the game alone.
You know exactly what to expect with Batman: The Telltale Series. The general level of quality is present here and if you’re looking for that in a Dark Knight theme then this won’t disappoint. The changes and perspectives they are tackling the story from make it more interesting than expected. Unfortunately the gameplay hasn’t changed nearly as much, giving the game more of a ‘me too’ kind of feeling. Realm of Shadows isn’t a negative experience, it’s just nothing to write home about.