Batman: The Telltale Series-Realm of Shadows Review
Batman Telltale poorly-optimized wonky controls adventure
I played through the free entry in Telltale's take on The Batman recently, and while it is enjoyable, it is definitely not without its problems. After two patches, this remains the most-poorly-optimized Telltale game I've played to date, with frequent stuttering and long load times. Oddly, the mouse-and-keyboard controls are also really awful for a company whose previous titles had perfectly fine KB+M controls; the game relies on weird key combinations like SHIFT-Q and A-D and mouse support is basically nonexistent. Voice-acting is largely of high quality, but I'm not fond of Enn Reitel's rendition of Alfred Pennyworth. Of all of the many live-action and VO actors to have played the role, there is something very un-Alfredish about his voice; this is obviously highly subjective, but it did bother me. There are a few other quirks to the characterizations in Telltale's narrative too, such as Bruce's grating tendency to refer to his butler as "Al."
Speaking of story, this is generally why you're playing a Telltale game, and the setup in this first episode is interesting. This is not exactly an origin story, but it is another Year One-type of scenario where we see a young Batman just starting out in his vigilante career with a very uneasy relationship with Gotham's finest. He is beset on all sides by enemies, including mob boss Carmine Falcone, Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and a nascent Penguin aka Oz Cobblepot (in this version, a young, sinister scion of a family of Gotham royalty who squandered his family's fortune after his parents' untimely deaths and has returned to his birthplace with mysterious and dangerous plans). All of this takes place against the background of his alter ego's efforts to aid DA Harvey Dent in supplanting Hamilton Hill as Gotham's mayor and to tear down and replace Arkham Asylum with a state-of-the-art mental-health care facility.
In addition to the usual QTEs and dialog choices, this game offers a few unusual gamey bits: crime-scene reconstruction and attack planning. This basically involves connecting two items or people in the environment to determine a plan of attack or element of a past occurrence. It's Telltale's version of detective vision, essentially, and while not really challenging in any meaningful sense of the term, it does highlight the genius aspect of the Batman's character.
If you're a fan of the Batman universe, it's not too difficult to overlook the game's various flaws, but if not, you're probably better off skipping this one and hoping Telltale succeeds in producing a less-buggy spin on Guardians of the Galaxy.
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