Where Were You That Night?
HIGH The culmination of Rocksteady’s storytelling and gameplay.
LOW I have a long way to go before 100% clearing this game.
WTF The Arkham Knight seems familiar, doesn’t he?
In the years ince Arkham Asylum’s release, we’ve seen plenty of games mimic its mix of combat, exploration and stealth — with mixed results. The likes of Mad Max, Shadow of Mordor and Marvel’s Spider-Man all include gameplay suites ripped straight from the Arkham playbook.
Unfortunately for them, the style was perfected in 2015.
Batman: Arkham Knight, the third in developer Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy, is in many ways the swan song of this type of action game. Packed to the brim with content and building upon a solid foundation, it’s the superhero game to end all superhero games.
Taking place nine months after Batman: Arkham City, Gotham is at its most peaceful. The Joker is dead and major players in the criminal underworld like The Riddler, Two-Face and Penguin are coming together with the common goal of killing Batman. The caped crusader is dealing with the loss of his arch nemesis, though that gets cut short when Scarecrow threatens to cover most of the East Coast in his special fear toxin.
This is a phenomenal story, told in ways that I wasn’t expecting. Without spoiling major beats, there are different perspectives — both figuratively and literally, and strong writing and direction from Arkham series vet Sefton Hill elevates this beyond a normal superhero story. It feels like a sprawling miniseries full of different plot threads that get wrapped up perfectly.
The story is also helped by excellent voice work from the cast. Kevin Conroy returns as the Dark Knight himself, and Mark Hamill stars as the posthumous Joker. New to the cast is Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks as Commissioner Gordon, who, like most of the GCPD, is stuck in Gotham to stop Scarecrow while the rest of the city is evacuated.
The superb voicework supports the feeling that Knight is scarier than the other Arkham titles. Sure, they all have their moments of tension, but this one offers terror thanks to Scarecrow’s fear gas bringing thematic and gameplay elements that surprised me.
In terms of gameplay, Batman still attacks with the now-trademark fast and furious combination of attacks and countering, though he’s up against some tough competition. Riddler robots, swordsmen, brutes, mingun operators, electrified enemies and more all join the fight and force players to improvise on the spot.
I love this combat and the addition of allies like Catwoman, Nightwing and Robin made it even more interesting. Switching between Batman and a partner to deliver some street justice never stops being satisfying, and even after playing so many copycats, there’s no question that Arkham is still the king.
The other half of the formula is, of course, stealth. It’s a lot harder to stay in the shadows this time, but Knight does a great job letting players experiment with different tactics. New gadgets like the voice synthesizer let players fool guards into thinking they’re taking orders from their bosses and an upgraded remote hacker lets Batman cause distractions around the room.
While those two pillars are as solid as ever, a major change comes in the form of the Batmobile. Despite criticism from fans and reviewers, I genuinely loved it. The vehicle controls like a dream in and out of battle mode, and driving around Gotham at blistering speeds feels like the ultimate Batman fantasy — I love it.
Rocksteady’s continued love of the property still shines through in the myriad of side content. All over the open world are Riddler trophies to collect, side missions that take from the mythos and the inclusion of several DC Comics characters.
Gotham City itself is wonderfully recreated and even after five years, it still manages to look impressive thanks to gorgeous visuals and strong environmental design. It’s a true superhero’s playground for what is arguably the peak of modern comic book games.
Batman: Arkham Knight is the ultimate proof that the folks at Rocksteady are masters of their craft — not only did they deliver an excellent open-world experience wrapped around the greatest Batman videogame story to date, it’s a worthy conclusion to one of the greatest comic game series of all time.
Rest easy Dark Knight. You’ve earned it.
Disclosures: This game is published by WB Games and developed by Rocksteady Studios. It is available on PS4, PC and Xbox One. This copy was obtained via paid download and was reviewed on PS4. Approximately 25 hours were spent and the game was completed. There is no multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M for Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, and Violence. This is an odd one because while this is a superhero game, it’s pretty heavy — there are scene involving torture, mass murder, and the struggle with mortality. Like the last two Arkham games, I would definitely recommend it for older audiences.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game is fully accessible thanks to subtitles and visual cues in gameplay. Every gadget also includes instructions written out clearly and the game never requires sound to progress.
Remappable Controls: No, the controls are not remappable but the y-axis can be changed.