Preview Gotham Knights: The worthy successor to Batman and the Arkham saga?
It’s been several years now that comic book fans have been waiting for the new adventures of Batman in video games, and their patience should soon be rewarded. Gotham Knights arrives on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S on October 21, 2022 with the starting premise of the death of the Dark Knight and the advent of a new generation of heroes. Are Batman’s heirs able to take over?
During an event organized in the studios of Warner Games located in Montreal, the editorial staff of JV was able to lay their hands on Gotham Knights during a game session on PS5 of around 2 hours and 30 minutes. This hands-on was followed by a series of interviews with the various departments responsible for the development of the game.
A new generation of heroes
The Gotham Knights story begins with a shocking revelation. Batman is dead, and his sudden demise leaves a huge void that only the Dark Knight’s heirs are likely to be able to fill. Nevertheless, the task promises to be particularly difficult for Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Red Hood (Jason Todd) and Robin (Tim Drake) who witness the fall of the North American city. Following the death of its protector, the city plunges into chaos. The mafia as well as the iconic villains of the franchise each respond in their own way to the death of their nemesis while the GCPD (for Gotham City Police District) tries to regain control of Gotham against criminals, but also self-proclaimed vigilantes now the target law enforcement.
Four heroes, four visions for a common goal… that of ridding Gotham City of the evil that gnaws at it. The story is structured around several narrative arcs, those of the vigilantes and the main antagonist of the game – the Court of Owls – in the lead, to which are added those of the emblematic villains of the saga who take advantage of the death of Batman to reinvent themselves. All these intrigues are brought to cross, to telescope with for finality to weave the destiny of our protagonists and Gotham. WB Games Montreal seeks above all to create a memorable and epic adventure inspired by the source material … the comics, but knowing how to emancipate itself from it to better surprise the fans. The heirs of the Dark Knight will have a lot to do during this original and unpublished story which is, as a reminder, connected neither near nor far to the universe of Rocksteady. In other words, Gotham Knights has no connection to Rocksteady’s “Arkham” series, but taps into the same lore… Gotham in mind.
This new city of Gotham is announced as the largest ever built. Beyond the figures, it is mainly the dark and sticky atmosphere that emerges from this metropolis with its post-industrial Gothic architecture that makes an impression. This vision by Warner Bros. offers fans a Gotham sometimes faithful to the spirit of the comics, sometimes conducive to a change of scenery. Of course, the cult places of the franchise, starting with the Iceberg Lounge, the Blackgate prison or the General Hospital are present. To move around in this open world populated by NPCs, our heroes can rely on their grappling hook, their Parkour skills and especially the Batcycle, just to gain a little height or, on the contrary, to cut through the ambient chaos on their motorized steed.
Gotham Knights returns to the origins of the Batman character and by extension his sidekicks. Our vigilantes are by essence detectives, and lead the investigation in the heart of a city plagued by crime. They analyze the crime scenes, collect clues, then cross-check them to determine future missions. The objective is simple: thwart the plans of the villains who see Gotham as the ideal playground. No need to be an expert in criminology to progress in the story, the resolutions are made naturally by joining the places indicated on the map and by fulfilling the successive objectives indicated. This “investigation” dimension specific to the saga should delight fans, even if the latter ultimately offers little freedom, and turns out to be (very) marked out.
Our 4 vigilantes are quick to apply expeditious justice, and never hesitate to use brute force to achieve their ends. The combat system, freely inspired by that of Marvel’s Spider-Man, much more than that of the Arkham series, is based on a clever mix of dodges, attacks and various skills. Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood and Robin twirl through the fray, each with their own style, and show off their mastery of the martial arts. Gotham Knights places confrontations at the center of a desired experience that is both accessible and technical enough to feel a real rise in power over the course of the adventure. Cleaning up the streets of Gotham proves extremely rewarding, whether it’s against minions or during boss fights, even if the camera can sometimes wander.
It is still advisable to act in the shadows and eliminate the threat without being detected. Stealth can quickly become a lethal weapon once placed in the hands of Gotham Knights. The latter carefully plan their attacks, then swoop down on their prey before slipping away without arousing the slightest suspicion. The enemies here show an intelligence that we could describe as “video game”, namely effective if not surprising. Several missions and / or objectives are also designed to highlight the infiltration phases while other situations leave the discretion of the vigilante the way forward, between frontal assault and discreet approach.
The Montreal studios have also integrated a Light-RPG overlay including obtaining new skills to unlock and new equipment to manufacture. These mechanics mainly allow you to refine your style of play, and translate through gameplay the evolution of our heroes who aspire to become the worthy successor to Batman. Finally, Gotham Knights can be experienced alone or in two-player co-op, and the creative teams have made every effort to provide an optimal gaming experience in all circumstances. For example, our heroes perform combined attacks in co-op, but are not chained to each other. They can separate for a time, fight crime on their side, before reuniting and thus discovering the different narrative arcs together. Even the boss fights differ depending on whether you are accompanied or not… an initiative that should be welcomed.
Gotham Knights could well be the worthy heir to Batman and the “Arkham” saga. With its original scenario, its exhilarating fights, its dark and majestic city of Gotham, its charismatic characters and its solo – cooperative approach, the title of WB Games Montreal has solid arguments. RDV is given on October 21, 2022 to discover the crossed destinies of the Knights of Gotham.
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