Reviewed on PlayStation 4
There's no denying that Telltale have recently really upped their game. Even if their Minecraft offering wasn't to your taste, anyone with a passion for superheroes, DC and the world of comic books should take a look at Batman: The Telltale Series. Heck, even those who haven't dipped their toes into any of those worlds so far should give this a go.
Think Batman meets House of Cards. There aren't just the novelty decisions here of how to take down an enemy, but ones that seem incredibly important. Should you shake the hand of a notorious crime boss in front of the public as Bruce Wayne? Should you snap the arm of a criminal in a bid to gain information that could save Gotham as Batman? It all weighs immensely on the player and you'll more often than not be wondering if the decisions you made were the right ones.
When playing as Batman, Telltale leans heavily on quick-time events and boy, do they induce some major anxiety. Press the wrong button and your punch may be mistimed, though, I did think I missed the timer at times and the consequences of that weren't as dire as they could have been. I never got 'Game Over' and had to go back a few steps for example, as I did playing as Lee many times through the first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead series.
What surprised me however is that I much preferred playing as Bruce. He's a man who has to think in the moment and in turn, that's exactly what the player has to do. In many ways you can work the people of Gotham to your advantage, using them as pawns in your game as Bruce, but it's just as easy to fall into the trap of becoming the pawn yourself.
Before starting the game, I told myself I was going to turn Batman into a villain perhaps more feared than the Joker if given the chance. But, when you're really faced with some big moral decisions, I felt compelled to do the right thing. My Batman would be a man for the people. A vigilante, yes, but one that wouldn't inspire fear but instead bring calm and peace to a city plagued by chaos and crime. I've never felt more like a hero.
Introducing a roster of characters that fans of the franchise will instantly recognise - such as Harvey Dent, Selina Kyle and Oswald Cobblepot - it'll be interesting to see just how different their stories are moving forward, and if we can help mould them as we do Bruce's. Cobblepot for example seems to be moving in a different direction to anything that I've ever seen - and I pride myself on reading a lot of DC Comics!
The artwork is in the traditional Telltale Games style, stellar and mesmerising, lending itself perfectly to the comic book world of Gotham. The voice acting even moreso allows the player to fully immerse themselves within that very universe. It's a fantastic display on all accounts.
Coming in at exactly the right length - around 90 minutes - there aren't moments where you're willing the episode to come to a close, as I have found myself doing in the past with Telltale. The company's strongest game to-date was The Wolf Among Us, but Batman here may be able to claw its way to the top of the pile.
Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1: Realm of Shadows is available now on iOS, Android, PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360.