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Batman: Realm of Shadows02 Aug, 2016
Batman is a disappointing Telltale-game, and a bummer of a Batman-game. The expected Telltale formula has gotten so perfected you feel like you’re playing a re-make of their last half-a-dozen or so games, and you never feel like you’re in anything wholeheartedly inspired by the Batman comics or movies.
A large part of what made 2.95 of the Arkham games succeed (i.e. the two first games, some of the third, and everything but the Batmobile sequences in the fourth) was that they stayed true to the source while creating their own universe. Batman feels more like it’s set in Wolf Among Us than Gotham. Not finding inspiration in a 77 year old franchise seems odd and lazy.
(Quick digression: Telltale- make another Fables game, please. I don’t think I can sit through another Walking Dead exercise in repetition.)
Gameplay wise the “action” sequences are animated and executed in a strangely slow manner, almost to the point of feeling like something out of a beginner’s martial arts class. The movements are like molasses, and let’s face it: At this point you don’t really have to follow the controls that pop up on screen. The game does it all for you. If you want a kick-ass Batman, this is not the game for you. Here he is merely a yellow belt, and one who seems bored with life at that.
The voice acting is—and this truly is atypical for a Telltale game—atrocious. Troy Baker, who did a great job replacing Mark Hamill as Joker in Arkham Origins, sounds like he’s about to fall asleep as Batman/Bruce Wayne. Travis Willingham’s Harvey Dent is a Saturday morning cartoon villain, and Laura Bailey, who was fantastic in Tales from the Borderlands, is as one dimensional as one can get. Did all these actors with impressive back-catalogues just lose their talent? Of course not. Somewhere, the voice direction must have blown up spectacularly. Or maybe it’s just the script?
Ah yes, the script.
There are echoes of the excellent Scott Snyder-penned Court of the Owls here, and of course of The Long Halloween. These echoes are faint. Dent is made into a bumbling idiot—if you’re expecting Aaron Eckhart you will cry—and the writers clearly do not understand the character. At all. Either way there isn’t much of a story going on here. The plot’s main point is that Telltale has a Batman license; anything else is secondary.
But hey, Jared Emerson-Johnson still puts down a great soundtrack at least.
This is not a very good game. Not that it’s awful, it’s just… Blah. The worst Telltale game since Back to the Future, certainly, and that is a little bit sad. Batman should be a great property for Telltale—so far it looks like they’ve decided to just phone it in.