Episode 1 – Realm of Shadows
I could probably stop now. Just
knowing who the maker is tells you a whole lot about what you need to
know, and probably whether this is for you or not. Dark and character
driven, conversation choices guiding the outcomes, finger pecking
battles along the way. Limited puzzling, comic style graphics, high
production values, and episodic.
Could be any of the back
catalogue. Is certainly this one. Which isn’t at all a bad thing.
Realm of Shadows is as much
about Bruce Wayne as it is about Batman, and arguably more so. Bruce is
backing the District Attorney Harvey Dent in his tilt at becoming mayor,
Oswald Cobblepot surfaces after many years, and a catlike creature
prowls the rooftops by night as Selina Kyle strolls out with Harvey by
day. Vicki Vale comes calling, the gangster Carmine Falcone wants in on
the possible new administration and Alfred is Alfred.
The characters are the thing so
I don’t know enough about the
Batman world to know whether all these characters existed at the time
and in the way they are portrayed here. But I don’t really care, and by
not knowing it doesn’t really matter. They are what they are, and my
engagement with them is uncluttered by any broader or deeper detail. You
may be different, and therefore any juxtaposition may grate, but I can
neither shed light or comment.
What I can say is that this
episode lays the table for the rest of the episodes rather nicely. It
starts with a bang, languishes a little but then gets going, clunks
occasionally on the dialogue but by and large delivers, and finishes on
a note that left me wanting to play the next episode.
While much about the Telltale
episodic games are the same or similar, there are differences. The
finger pecking generally has some different moves and combinations, and
while I did think some of the combinations here were a tad ornery (in
that the screen said do this and by the time I had read it, found the
keys and executed I was too late), by and large this is a forgiving game
in terms of the action sequences. First and foremost is that there are
sequences akin to your health running out in an action game; that is,
you can sustain a certain amount of damage before you fail, as opposed
to failing at each misstep. I liked this aspect a lot, and it suited the
bat-ness of the whole thing.
Plot wise, you can discover the
rest yourself. Except to say that secrets abound, and there are some
intriguing cat/bat interactions, with clearly more to come.
Choices are important, at least
as to how your characters will develop. You get to choose between
brutality or arrest, providing information to the police or to the
press, gentle and not so gentle persuasion to name just a few. Many of
my choices were in the majority, but some in the distinct minority. As
always, how they impact what follows won’t really be known until it’s
There are some “detecting” bits,
which involve combining clues to determine what happened, and in a
similar way you combine mobster guards with possible methods of demise
to break into a secure facility. Once you have reckoned with your
bat-drone. The detecting was a little artificial but I did like the
latter scenario. Plus it led to the most intense of the action
sequences, which I survived by the skin of my bat-teeth.
I like Telltale, I like comics
and the bat, and I liked this.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 16GB DDR3
Video card: AMD
Radeon HD 7800 2048MB
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