Episode 1: Realm of Shadows
It is finally here! Well, last week it finally came, the first episode of Telltales Batman series. It feels a bit weird to write a review of a game that isn't complete yet. Though, like other Telltale games the episodes get released over several months time. So, to write about a two hour experience not knowing what else is to come, feels a bit out of place. I'll tell you what doesn't feel out of place. Playing a Telltale game again.
Anyone who has played one of their games will instantly feel right at home. This game gives players tough, timed choices, and depending what you decide, the consequences could have a devastating effect in the future. That's how all the Telltale games work. You have a storyline, main characters, and supporting characters, and as the game moves along you make the choices to thicken the plot. In past games like The Walking Dead, these choices can literally decides who lives and who dies. This Batman game has the similar feelings. Yet, instead of people dying, the city of Gotham starts to see what kind of person Bruce Wayne or Batman will be in the end.
That seems to be the point of this game, not to mention, it's the best part. You, as the player, get to decide how you want your Batman to be perceived by the city. As the events in the story unfold, you make choices that determine how brutal you can be as Batman, or you can be a more passive Batman. I think this is the most interesting aspect of the game. Do you want your Batman to be as brutal as Zack Snyder's vision, or do you want to like the original comics where no one dies? It's a fine line that can be crossed in these choices. Lines that if you do cross there is always a camera or group of people looking at you. Therefore, the whole city of Gotham will see what type of hero you're becoming.
The same goes for Bruce Wayne. Will you be a Bruce Wayne that is arrogant and flashes his money, or will you be a Bruce Wayne that wants Gotham to be better? There comes a point when you may have to shake the hand of an alleged crime boss. You have to make this choice in front of hundreds of people, at a gala being held at Wayne Manor. This decision will of course alter how the people of Gotham view Bruce Wayne. That's the name of the game folks. You choose your own fate as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. I will say one thing: go with your gut. Don't make decisions based on what you think other people would have done. Make this your own story, and then live with your own consequences. That's what makes the game incredibly fun!
Are there some flaws in this game? Sure, it's a video game. It's going to have its flaws. The one it's guilty of the most, is its repetitiveness. One too many times we have to hear about Bruce's parents being dead. We get it Telltale, his parents died! Does it have to be mentioned in every chapter of this episode? By now we've seen Batman in medium out there, maybe mention it once and move the hell on! Key conversations do not need to have his parents dying as a point. Dammit, now I have to mention it too many times here! Let's move on. Back to some of the flaws real quick. One of the other topics the player hears too much of, is how much Alfred cares about Bruce and wants him to not be Batman. The other being how much Gotham sucks, but it used to be a better place. Those three points get brought up too much, that it makes some conversations unbearable. Luckily, the other aspects of the game make up the difference.
Visually, it's hard to find games that bring stories and character to life like Telltale. Of course, there are companies like Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, and Insomniac that bring large open worlds to life, but when you want to highlight a smaller scale of game look no further than Telltale. Talk about a walking, talking comic book, Telltale has the ability to bring even a place like Gotham City to life. Somehow they are able to add a bit of color to different places that make it pop off screen. Even Batman's patented dark suit has color to it, because at the beginning of the game you get to choose the color of your Bat-tech. I went with yellow, though, it was an accident. I wasn't paying attention, and the next thing I know, I have yellow tech. Which, if I'm being honest, it's kind of dope. It's a cool contrast to the black and grey Batman. Anyway, here and there you find the beauty in the colors for the game. If you were expecting a dark, grim game, well you've come to the wrong place sunny boy.
Finally, I have already started to really love the supporting characters in the game. From helping Harvey Dent in his mayoral run, to developing a relationship with Lt. Jim Gordon. This game will not let it's support cast fall to the way side. You are in deep with everyone in this game. Though the supporting character that shines the most to me is Selina Kyle/Catwoman.
She is every bit as important to the story as Bruce Wayne will be. She steals your heart almost instantly. Selina is charming and beautiful, yet sassy and conniving. She is everything you want in a Catwoman character. I can't wait to see the relationship with her blossom into more. However, the biggest question still on my mind is will she be friend or foe? I can't wait to find out.
Overall, this first episode was a blast. It's a quick two hours of your time, two hours that is well worth it. You get to spend time with one of the most iconic characters in comic book history. You pull the strings on Batman. Something that as far as I know, we have never been able to do. Sure, in the Arkham series you play as Batman. Those games are great. Though this game you not only get to play as Batman, but almost as important you play as Bruce Wayne. Making the choices that can affect both sides of Wayne's life is a great deal of fun. Getting closer to the other people in the story is a huge part. How much will you back Harvey Dent to becoming mayor? Would it be so much, that it tests your own integrity? Only you can make these decisions. You make your own Batman story. Either you become a vigilante that the city fears. Or you become the beacon of light, that the city loves. This is your story. And your story alone. Finally! You're the author of your own Batman story. Choose wisely. And until next time folks. All the best.