Unable to fill Batman’s Cowl
For a moment, it looks like Batman might just have one more trick up his sleeve. But no, in a suicidal last resort, the Caped Crusader blows up himself, Ra’s al Ghul and the Batcave, and Gotham Knights follows his bat-family of successors – Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing and Red Hood – as they try to pick up the pieces and move on.
For well over half of its 30 hours, the game seems to have all the key prerequisites for a worthy successor to Arkham series. The ambitious action is there, with the city caught in a turf war between the manipulative Court of Owls who have secretly ruled Gotham and the now leaderless League of Assassins, who seek to bring the metropolis to heel. The character work is surprisingly deep, with each Bat Family member taking on a different specialization (from Red Hood’s gunplay to Batgirl’s hacking), a unique form of traversal (Nightwing’s Flying Trapeze jet glider), and set of Momentum special moves (Robin’s propeller). -like Bo attack).
Each scene also has its own dialogue depending on which character you play, which brings some nuance to the game’s story; this is especially evident in the interaction between the Red Hood and Talia al Ghul, the woman who once resurrected him in a Lazarus pit. Batman was all gloom and doom in the subterranean depths, but the Bat-Family operates out of a lively clock tower (the Clock Tower), and between missions they commiserate, encourage, and support each other as they exercise, play video games, cook, and tinker with technology their. This exciting camaraderie is intentional—so much so that Alfred says “brightness” to four characters when they’ve completed their Knighthood side quests—and surprisingly sincere.
But then the shine wears off, and because the gameplay is already dramatically simplified compared to Arkham series, Gotham Knights unable to fill the cover. There are no crime scene reconstructions, just quick AR scans of evidence that a child could complete. There are no gadgets, such as a remote-controlled Batarang, to solve puzzles, or stealth sequences in Predator mode. Combat doesn’t have a combo meter to fill, and the patrol missions you have to complete to level up and progress your research quickly become repetitive.
Worse still, the locations you visit, while well-rendered, are too linear one-offs, and in the game’s third act they drop any pretense of stealth or puzzle-solving, their corridors overflowing with gauntlets of spongy enemies. (Perhaps this is a more balanced experience in the two-player co-op mode, which this reviewer didn’t get to test.) It’s understandable that the developers want to stand in their own shoes, but they’ve needlessly thrown away some of the best parts of Arkham experience and failed to replace them with anything as mechanically interesting or satisfying.
The game’s solid storytelling – though even it veers towards the absurdly over-the-top – is drowned out by the patrol missions, and at one point you’ll have to fight the same boss five times in a row. The open world’s randomly generated, narrative-free crimes are obvious padding, a distraction from things Gotham Knights is actually good for, like a return to the ruined Arkham Asylum, or a visit to a Court of Owls gala at the Orchard Hotel. These bespoke missions are worth a Batman sequel—and a Batman game—time and attention.
Players who want to switch between characters at the start of each night’s patrol will find this process even more annoying. Yes, all four level up at the same time, but because craftable gear and Momentum abilities can only be earned and unlocked for your active hero, you still have to train each character separately. If none of the leads you earned from a previous night’s patrol opened an “Owl’s Nest” activity, you’ll have to drive through the Bowery or West End looking for random Court of Owls criminals to interrogate. Doing this twice is bad enough, but if you use all four characters, the worst aspects of the game are effectively quadrupled.
It shouldn’t feel like a chore to be Batman, or his successor, and yet that’s exactly what ends up being Gotham Knights. Instead of cracking cases, players are stuck mopping up random crimes, and doing so with a combat system that feels more brutal and banal than it Arkham game. Considering how well the game understands Batman’s sometimes complicated teachings, it’s a disappointing legacy for the World’s Greatest Detective.
This game was reviewed with code provided by fortyseven communications.
Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montreal Publisher: Warner Bros. games Platform: PlayStation 5 Release date: 21 October 2022 ESRB: T ESRB Descriptions: Violence, blood, language, use of alcohol and tobacco