The Batman franchise might be the most successful crossover comic, and now Telltale Games is taking its own stab at the Caped Crusader with Batman – The Telltale Series Episode 1: Realm Of Shadows (what a mouthful!). In video games alone we’ve had great hits with the Arkham and Lego series in recent years, and it’s a relief to know that Telltale continues this fine tradition.
Not that there should have been any doubt: While this is Telltale’s first attempt at a DC Comics superhero, they have done a great job in both Fables (The Wolf Among Us) and The Walking Dead. With Batman, Telltale don’t stray too far from Batman’s comic roots, yet still manage to come up with something that feels new – all this by focusing on the man we call Bruce Wayne.
The story dives right into the action with Batman – no pearl-clutching origin story here – running up against Catwoman in a heist. When you’re Batman you will fight via Telltale’s version of combat – quicktime events coupled with a meter for Bat’s finishing move. Almost like the Arkham series! There are also fun bits where you get to use Batman’s various gadgets – his utility belt definitely comes in handy here.
The World’s Greatest Detective also get up to some detecting. Telltale has introduced a new mechanism into the game, where Batman needs to connect clues in a crime scene to solve a case. It’s a pity it is only used once in the game – not all Batman games do a good job with the crime-solving so I’m keen to see how Telltale uses this better in later episodes. The implementation this time around seem a little closer to “proof of concept” – and thankfully it works.
Still, it’s really the scenes where Bruce Wayne appears that pushes the narrative. Wayne is funding the political career of one Harvey Dent (no prizes for guessing how many faces he has), but he’s quickly waylaid by mob boss Carmine Falcone who has some leverage on the Wayne family. It is this mystery that really gets things going – I’m totally looking forward to episode two.
Telltale continues to impress with each new franchise – and while the detecting mechanism is new, Telltale doesn’t stray far from its formula. But it’s a formula that works very well, and its clear that the Dark Knight is in very good hands.