Telltales new Batman game is already pushing and taking the hollowed character in directions I wouldn't have thought just two hours ago. Taking risks, subverting our established ideas of certain iconic characters, and delivering a series of surprising twists that taken together add up to a great start for the series and one of the freshest and most innovative takes on the Dark Knight in some time.
Telltale seems perfectly suited to telling the story of Batman/Bruce Wayne, yet the biggest fear I had was that it was just going to be a by-the-books Batman story, good but not great. Those fears went away rather quickly as Telltale seemed intent on shaking things up and keeping few things sacred.
Indeed from Oswald Cobblepot to Harvey Dent, Realm of Shadows subverted and twisted the vision of some of Bat's most famous characters, that's without even mentioning some of the big plot twists concerning Bruce's own family.
Which is an important theme of the episode. In many, indeed most stories concerning Bruce Wayne little if any attention is paid to the legacy of the Wayne family, aside from obligatory references to their storied past and Bruce's parents deaths. Yet, in Realm of Shadows particular attention was paid to the legacy of the Wayne name and just how little Bruce may actually know about it.
Really, that carries over in the most basic ways, this first episode is a Bruce story far more then its a Batman story. Functioning as a year two story of sorts for Bat's, it is still as Batman and Bruce are figuring out their places in Gotham and critically still defining the kind of person they want to be. How far is Bruce willing to go as Batman, what does he stand for? What are the ideals and goals he is fighting for? These are all themes being explored in rich and deep ways in this first episode and ones that are left ripe for further exploration and answer as the series progress.
Realm of Shadows was a refreshing and quite honestly surprising opener to the five episode story Telltale is crafting about the Dark Knight. While the game still suffers from occasional problems common to Telltales engine, it wonderfully nails the look of the Dark Knight and Gotham and manages to be the smoothest and best run game to date for the studio.
Intent on weaving its own story, and with a dozen different threads ripe for potential and intrigue, Realm of Shadows is a wonderful start to the season and a captivating glimpse into the potential greatness this game has in store.