One of the momentous moments in the history of superhero games was when Rocksteady launched Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009. Marketed with the tagline “Be The Batman,” Arkham Asylum changed the superhero gaming genre forever, which had been mostly filled with sub-par titles up till that point.
Batman: Arkham Asylum has seen tremendous success, being warmly received by fans and critics alike while also putting Rocksteady on the map amidst other big-name developer studios like BioWare and Eidos. Following this success, the developer launched a series surrounding this popular DC superhero, collectively known as the Arkham trilogy.
The final game in the series was Batman: Arkham Knight, released in 2015 and brought the story of the Caped Crusader in Rocksteady’s adaptation to a close. With six years worth of experience and new technology to utilize, Rocksteady pulled out all the stops to make this one of the best superhero games in history.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinion.
How Batman: Arkham Knight still retains one of the top spots in the superhero game genre
Lead up to the finale
Batman: Arkham Knight is the culmination of Rocksteady’s series based on the Dark Knight, which is felt in many aspects of the game. The larger plot, revolving around the villain Scarecrow and his plan to flood Gotham with his fear toxin, had been hinted at since the very first game.
Players could come across hints at Scarecrow’s larger ambitions inside a secret room in Batman: Arkham Asylum. More specific details can also be found in another hidden lair in the second game, Batman: Arkham City, which is a direct hint towards the plot of Arkham Knight. Thus, Rocksteady had been laying the groundwork for Arkham Knight since the very start of the series.
The developers also took inspiration from Batman: Arkham Origins, a prequel game from WB Montreal, which took a more grounded approach to the story unlike Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. After the praise that the game received, Arkham Knight also adopted some of its features and moved away from the campy nature of the previous games.
That’s not to say they made any significant changes to the original Arkham esthetic. The gothic nature returns from Arkham Asylum, which was one of the best aspects of it.
Gotham City has been created from the ground up, with some fantastic attention to detail, spread across three islands and offering an immersive open world for players to get the most authentic feeling of being the Batman.
Players also have access to the Batmobile, which allows them to traverse the map and also use it as an offensive weapon against the unmanned vehicles roaming the city. While the controls were a bit iffy, the car was also a key element in the Dark Knight’s mythos, a much-demanded feature in this superhero game series.
Combat is as good as it gets in the series, with Rocksteady polishing up their iconic system for the best experience. The classic attack and counter mechanic is smooth as butter while also allowing players to mix in the use of different gadgets from this superhero’s arsenal, which turns each fight into a unique experience. While even veteran players will require a little bit of getting used to, the learning curve is not too steep and is quite accessible to new players.
Predator sequences are when this superhero game series shines the best, and Arkham Knight is no exception. With a wide array of abilities and gadgets, a faster and improved Batsuit, along with some ingenious quality of life improvements, these are the times when players will truly feel how Batman strikes fear into the hearts of criminals.
Rocksteady’s unique approach to gameplay allows players to experiment with their creativity in how to tackle every enemy encounter. Based on the gadgets available and skills unlocked, they can take a stealthy approach or attack in quick succession and relish in the chaos that ensues.
The Story and Characters
In the final installment of the series, Batman has to stop Scarecrow from enacting his master plan, having teamed up with a mysterious agent known as the Arkham Knight, who commands his very own militia force, specifically trained to combat the Caped Crusader and his unique tactics.
The mystery surrounding the Arkham Knight’s identity is a key component of the narrative, as he displays a grudge against Batman and has his own reasons for helping Scarecrow. The game also includes the largest cast of allies and other secondary antagonists from the DC franchise, making this superhero game feel like an integral part of the DC universe.
Barbara Gordon as Oracle made her first appearance in the series after being a voice in Bruce’s ear for the last two games. As does Dick Grayson as Nightwing, who was once the very first Robin, now grown up and taking on a distinct hero, away from the Bat’s shadow, in Bludhaven.
Returning characters like Commissioner Jim Gordon, Catwoman, Alfred, and series original Aaron Cash also play large roles in the story. Batman’s rogue's gallery for this superhero game, in addition to the Scarecrow and Arkham Knight, includes The Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, Firefly, and Deathstroke, along with a few others.
While there were a few problems when the game launched on PCs, in other instances, it was a success on many other fronts. Batman: Arkham Knight toed the line with a well-written and grounded story that also balanced enough comic book elements to stand on its own merits as a truly great superhero game.
Rocksteady’s now iconic combat mechanic has been replicated by many different games since the release of Arkham Asylum, although never with enough success as the original. This is a perfect example of how to emulate the feeling of being a superhero while not limiting the player and allowing them a degree of freedom unseen in many video games.
This is a superhero game that has been the standard for many years, against which new superhero games are compared. Upon the release of Insomniac’s Marvel's Spider-Man, it was also juxtaposed with Arkham Knight for many of its different features, including its combat, open world, and story.
Arkham Knight still looks gorgeous and feels fresh to play even to this day, especially when booted up in next-gen consoles such as a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Thus, it has been and probably will remain one of the best superhero games for the foreseeable future, at the very least.
Poll : Did you enjoy Batman: Arkham Knight?
Yup, loved it