The story of the man behind the cowl
The Arkham trilogy is undoubtedly the best Batman game to hit the home console and personally, I think Batman: Arkham City has to be the best Batman game to date. It had the right amount of action, perfect plot twists, and quite the dramatic ending. Fast forward to 2016, and Telltale has decided to give the Batman franchise a new twist. If you are one familiar with Telltales games, then you know that story is key for the games this studio makes. Take The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead or even their take on Game of Thrones. It’s needless to say that fan expectations are sky high when it comes to anything to do with Batman. Does Batman: Realm of Shadows deliver a promising Dark Knight experience?
Let’s get the best out of the way. The story of Telltale’s take on Batman is really good. It focuses on the trials Bruce Wayne faces and how the actions of Batman affect him. We have seen this turmoil in Christopher Nolan’s take on the Dark Knight. In Telltale’s adaptation, this turmoil has been amplified and the effects of the decisions you make throughout the game are reflected. For example, When Falcone crashes Bruce Wayne’s party, all eyes are on the host. Whether you shake his hand, be polite to him, ignore him, everything has causality.
Coming to the man behind the mask, when you control Bruce Wayne, you have to take real world decisions for him. How will he support Harvey Dent’s campaign? What will he do to clear his name when he is associated with the scum of Gotham, so on and so forth. What happens when a reporter shows interest in the handsome billionaire? These sections are quite interesting to play and add to the fact that you have limited time to choose your responses adds to the tension.
When the billionaire brings out his toys, that’s when you control the caped crusader. These are Batman’s early days. He is a known vigilante who has Lutenist Gordon on his side but hasn’t encountered the super villains yet. When you play as Batman, the story is more about being the detective and solving crimes. There is also the “badass” butt-kicking to be done which we will cover in gameplay.
There is a lot more I’d like to tell you about the story but then I’d end up running it for you. So let’s leave it at this – if you enjoy story-driven games, then you should definitely check this game out. The story of Batman has some interesting twists here and it will be very interesting to see where Telltale take the franchise forward in Episode 2.
|Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac OS
Price: Rs 380 (for Episode 1 on Xbox One)
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Gameplay – Batman: Realm of Shadows
Telltales Batman adventure does not have any complicated controls. In fact, the controls are as simple as following the button prompts on the screen. There are times when during some fight sequences I missed the correct button prompts and the caped crusader still pulled off the move he was going to. This led me to believe that the button prompts were a mode of engagement and this is partially true. There are some small moves, where even if you miss the button prompts, the action will be executed, but there are others where timing matters.
The action as Batman is a lot like the quick-time events from God of War and that isn’t always bad. There are times when you have to help Batman plan his moves and sit back and watch him execute them. When you don the role of the world’s greatest detective, you also have to solve crimes. This is done with Telltales own take on ‘detective mode’ (the one we have seen in Arkham Knight). You recreate the events of a crime scene to understand what really happened and this is an interesting puzzle to solve.
The gameplay as Bruce Wayne is much simpler. All you need to do is chose the corresponding dialogue from the screen and watch the story unfold.
I must admit, I am one who enjoys action adventure games the most and it’s a good thing the first episode of the Telltale batman game was about 2.5 hours long. The story is intriguing enough to leave you wanting more and the gameplay is fresh for what it offers. However, if you are one that doesn’t enjoy story driven games, then the gameplay will not appeal to you.
If there is one place where the game suffers it is with the graphics. We tested the Xbox One version of the game and the resolution is less than 720p. the experience of the game is smooth overall but there are times when the frame rate really dropped hampering the overall experience. There is also something unnatural about the way Bruce Wayne walks and some of Batman’s antics look unnatural and distracting.
On a positive note, Telltale has always chosen cell shaded comic book style graphics for its games and for the most part, it works. The design and animation of Batman’s suite pays homage to Frank Miller Dark Knight in quite a few ways and we like it.
There are times when the cell shaded comic book style graphics look weak and facial animations seem unnatural. For some, they may be distracting and take away from the overall experience.
The background score of the game is good varying between absolute silence and high tempo when required. A special mention goes out to Troy Baker who has voiced the caped crusader. For those unaware, he had taken up the role of the Joker in Batman: Arkham Origins so it’s nice to see him on this side of the fence for a change. Another voice actor to look out for is Travis Willingham who plays Harvey Dent. So far he has done a good job but I’m looking forward to his version of Two-Face.
Overall, the sound design of the game is good.
To buy or not to buy – Batman: Realm of Shadows
The down side is that the experience ends in about 2-3 hours and the inconsistent frame rate coupled with the low resolution is jarring if you know where to look. The up side is that for its duration, the experience (mostly the story) will keep you wanting more. There are twists and turns in the plot that will make you question your decision at every turn. The downside is that the impact of some of these decisions isn’t as grave as it should be. Or maybe this is something that will take effect in future episodes. The game is ideal for Telltale fans and people that enjoy a good story. If you however are an action adventure junkie, then this slow paced gameplay may not appeal to you. For me, it was a pleasant break from all the running and gunning.
|Immersive story||Wont appeal to everyone|
|Immersive story||Resolution and frame rate could have been better|
|Fun gameplay||Some quick-time sequences are gimmicky|
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Sameer "Psycho Mantis" Mitha
I live for gaming and technology is my muse. When I am not busy playing with gadgets or video games I delve into the world of fantasy novels.