Batman Arkham VR Review
When I obtained my PSVR kit a few days ago, the first game I made sure that I obtained was Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham VR game. With the original Arkham trilogy, the developer proved that it could create an incredible Batman experience. Each narrative was gripping and steeped in the lore of the Dark Knight that it felt authentic and it’s story arc became beloved by every fan of the comic book superhero. With the advent of the Playstation’s VR system, the development team have gone one step further. They bring this fantastic storytelling and the Batman experience to life through your eyes.
The game brings the world of Gotham City completely to life in your room. The initial level replays the origin story of the Dark Knight, with each new game or movie, Batman fans become steadily tired of it’s retelling. This was the first time however that I’ve been young Bruce in that tragic, famed alleyway. My parent’s killer stood inches from my face, yelling, spittle forming at the corners of his mouth as he holds a gun to my infant head. This was a truly incredible opening and had me recoiling as the scar covered mobster leaned forward to speak to me.
I was transported to the present, in Wayne Manor, a Bruce sat in front of the grand piano. As I rotated the Playstation Move’s controllers, I could see the scars on his hands from his previous evenings crime fighting encounters. On the desk was a postcard which I lifted and rotated, it was from Selina Kyle describing her latest adventures. It’s touches like this which developer Rocksteady constantly nails to perfection.
This ability of the developer to create the ‘feeling’ of Batman is further enhanced with the suiting up experience and the Batcave. Each sequence is dripping with atmosphere, the most memorable is reaching out and placing the famed cowl on your head to see your reflection as Batman in a mirror surface. His head reacting to your movements and his hands reacting to your move controllers. I become completely immersed in the whole experience, I turned my head and observed the world around me, moved my head closer to the virtual objects and examined them carefully.
In the Batcave there are data cassettes to place into the Batcomputer, these show off the digital models in the game. You can rotate highly detailed models of Nighwing, Robin, The Joker and other characters from the Batman Universe. There’s even a video tape which details The Joker’s torture of Jason Todd in the ‘A Death in the Family’ story. Mark Hamill thankfully makes a return appearance as The Joker in the game. There’s an incredible amount of gadgetry such as centrifuges, syringes and even a target game where you throw your Batarangs to attempt the highest score.
As Batman, I am equipped with three gadgets, the forensic scanner, the grapple gun and a series of Batarangs. Using the forensic Scanner, I can replay the sequences of events to uncover the central mystery of the game. In one scene I was able to replay a fight sequence prior to a murder, it’s a gameplay element anyone who has been used to the previous Arkham titles would be familiar with. In this new perspective, something familiar becomes something brutal and visceral as the murder plays out in front of my eyes.
I have to warn Batfans that this game focuses on his detective skills rather than his fighting abilities. I think that makes a more cohesive experience and while you may be disappointed by the lack of being able to batter the bad guys to a pulp, what is on offer here is incredible. The central narrative element of the story is that both Nightwing and Robin have gone missing and you must find out what has happened to them. This journey will lead you from the Batcave to the streets of Gotham, investigating at the Police Morgue, the sewers deep below Gotham City to finally entering Arkham itself.
Arkham VR is a must buy for any Batman fan with a VR kit. Rocksteady keep proving that they are the perfect developers for Batman games. Extending their repertoire o the VR world is something to be heavily commended.