Is Telltale's Version Of Gotham City Worth Visiting? [Batman: The Telltale Series Review]
Telltale corners the market in affordable and entertaining point-n'-click adventure games based on popular franchises, and no beloved geek culture series is off limits. But does Telltale have what it takes to make an interesting story centered around the Dark Knight himself?
That is the question I had moments before starting up the first episode of Telltale's newest game, Batman: The Telltale Series. I am a huge fan of Telltale Games, first jumping on the "TT bandwagon" with the first season of their Walking Dead series.
Since then, I've had nothing but good experiences with the studio and their incredible story-driven games. Telltale has expertly crafted world filled with zombies, White Walkers, space bandits, and more. With their newest title, Telltale ventures into the corrupt and crime-filled Gotham City.
Batman: The Telltale Series puts players in the shoes of the Dark Knight himself, as well as his billionaire alter-ego, Bruce Wayne. Players essentially play two characters this way. Part of the game is presented as a crime thriller, as players control Batman and utilize his many gadgets and detective skills to solve crimes and take down thugs. The other half of the game is spent in the political world, as Bruce Wayne attempts to both uphold his family name and use his influence to keep Gotham safe in another way.
The great thing about the Batman mythos is that it's so large and flexible, that storytellers aren't confined to a set string of events. Telltale uses this to theur advantage, providing players with a unique story, rather than rehashing an old comic book event. Of course, it's too early to say if they'll directly reference any of Batman's most famous capers.
Batman fans shouldn't worry however, as the developers make sure to keep some core elements of the Batman mythos intact- such as his heartbreaking origin story, and the father/son relationship Bruce has with his dear old butler, Alfred.
Batman: The Telltale Series essentially tells one story from two different perspectives; Bruce Wayne's and Batman's. You would think with them being the same person and all that the perspectives would more or less be the same. The game actually does a fairly good job of differentiating the separate psyches of Bruce and his darker superhero identity.
The first episode in Batman, Realm of Shadows starts with Batman facing off against a group of mercenaries who broke into the office of the corrupt Mayor Hill. After scaring them into paying their therapist for overtime, Batman comes across a familiar femme fatale cat burgular, and gives chase to her.
After this, we're properly introduced to Bruce Wayne, just moments before we're thrown into a party thrown at Wayne Manor to promote running politician Harvey Dent for Mayor. Yeah, that Harvey Dent, something tells me his relationship with Bruce is going to be very strained in the near future.
That's my only big complaint with the story for Realm of Shadows. It's a solid story, but it only really exists to set up later episodes. I'm aware that most first episodes are meant to do that, but at the end of Realm of Shadows, I found myself more excited for the future than to play through the first episode again.
That's not to say there aren't great story elements in Realm of Shadows. The story surrounding Bruce's political campaign with Dent, as well as his mission to get gangsters like Carmine Falcone off the street, are very interesting.
The characters are also pretty great. Batman: The Telltale Series does its best to stay true to the nature of the characters. Bruce and Batman are how you'd expect them to be, along with Catwoman and Harvey Dent. There is one character they took some liberties with, Oswald Cobblepot.
Cobblepot, a.k.a The Penguin, saw a major character change in FOX's hit show Gotham, one that I honestly enjoy. Batman: The Telltale Series also features a different take on Batman's future foe. "Oz" was childhood friends with Bruce, hailing from a family as rich as the Waynes, before his family lost everything. Now he's a homeless man hellbent on the destruction of Gotham's upperclass, warning Bruce to decide "who's side he's on" before things go down.
It's an odd, but refreshing take on one of Batman's oldest foes. However, like most interesting story elements in this episode, Oz's talk of a revolution in Gotham is only set up and saved for later.
Besides that, everything about the game's story is solid, as well as the voice acting and familiar comic book graphics style. It's the technical side of the game that needs major work.
If you're trying to play Realm of Shadows on PC, don't even bother. That version of the game is botched, with enough glitches, lag, and framerate drops to make the game extremely unplayable.
The PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game are glitchy, and suffer from major framerate drops and graphical issues, but at least they're playable. Telltale has had some issues with launches in the past, but this is truly their buggiest release. It's a shame, because the game is actually really good, it's just plagued with technical errors that range from annoying to seriously hindering.
However, if you can look past the bugs and graphic drops, you'll find a really fun and enjoyable two-hour Batman adventure that'll have you craving more episodes!
Fans of Telltale's familiar style and/or Batman will enjoy Batman: The Telltale Series. It's got a great original story and a good cast of characters, all fit with some great voice actors.