Platform Played: Playstation 4
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Episode 1: Realm of Shadows
In this world, Batman seems to be fairly freshman in his role as vigilante, still not being quite adept at juggling both parts of his life. He is in a stage I like to refer to as Sad Batman. Although it happened decades ago, he still feels the open wound that is the loss of his parents. Almost every personal moment we see of Batman is him reacting despondently to something. The story is all about the past, questioning the role his parents played in Gotham’s current predicament, and setting up the dominoes to his destruction.
Veteran video game voice actor Troy Baker gives us his take on the Caped Crusader. He gives one of the best performances in the game as he plays Bruce Wayne and Batman. In Episode One, the story skews more Bruce than Batman since a majority of it involves his personal life, family and even acquaintances. There are more than a few characters we encounter that we know very well in the world of Batman, but a majority of them are soon to be villains.
This Batman universe is beautiful, combining skillful animation with an artful, comic book style. The colors pop and the environment is vibrant, especially considering just how gloomy and gray-scale Gotham is usually portrayed. As of the first episode, the story has a gritty Nolan-like realism. There have yet to be any of the whimsical or over-the-top elements the Batman universe is sometimes known for, like some of the more science fiction elements.
The combat mechanics are simple, but sometimes complicated to execute. The fast-paced combat that Batman faces is fairly easy when it comes to pressing a button, but very difficult to tell if you hit it in time or if it registered at all. There were a few times when I excitedly accidentally pressed the wrong button and it didn’t seem to have an effect one way or another. The game easily makes up for this by introducing my favorite aspect of Batman: The Detective. Batman isn’t all brute strength, but that is sometimes overlooked in different incarnations of him. Not in this game. We get to put his sleuthing skills to the test when we have to piece together an event using only the physical and chemical clues around us. This is where the game really has a chance to shine.
At the beginning, there is a customizable element to the game that will affect the rest of the story. It’s not as major as you would think, but it does represent a nice change to the usually limited options in these kinds of games. Before you start the game, you get to choose the highlighting color used in most of Batman’s tech. The choice is nothing but an aesthetic one, but that bit of personalization, although completely out of character for Batman since I chose neon purple, is a fun one.
It’s only the first episode so it’s almost impossible to tell just how our decisions will affect the story as a whole. Aside from a few technical flaws, this is a great start to Telltale’s take on Batman. Batman: The Telltale Series successfully creates the needed atmosphere we’re used to while remaining faithful to Batman’s character and universe. This may not be like the Batman video game trilogy developed by Rocksteady Studios, but this narrative driven approach has a lot to offer and I don’t think we’ve yet to see the best this season of Batman has to offer.
Rating: ★★★★★★★★ (8/10 stars)