I’m Batman: Hands on with Arkham VR at SDCCJuly 22, 2016
Batman: Arkham VR is the latest addition in the Arkham family of games and it bears the weight of expectation. The previous three games were all so successful both commercially, and critically, that fans are expecting great things.
If the demo at San Diego Comic Con is any indication, fans need not be worried.
You begin the game as Bruce Wayne. You’re in Wayne Manor and Alfred brings you some chilling news: there’s been a murder and only The World’s Greatest Detective can solve the crime.
After activating your secret piano elevator, you’re transported below into the Batcave. Your descent is slow, giving you ample time to take in every stunning image. When you turn your head, every place you look offers a unique view; from a majestically cascading waterfall to Batman’s collection of high tech gadgets, this is one elevator trip you’ll want to savour.
When you arrive at the base of the Batcave, you’re ready to begin. You grab your gloves and helmet, a grappling hook, some batarangs, and your forensic analyzer. Once you do a final equipment test you’re ready to take the case.
I won’t go into too many details as that verges into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say, the crime scene will offer Batman the most difficult case of his career.
The game’s controls are elegant and intuitive, and for the most part, I was able to figure out what I needed to do without prompting. That’s key because in VR, there is no user interface: what you see is what you have. The game isn’t able to offer any on screen information without removing the user’s illusion that they are Batman.
Rocksteady, the designers of Arkham VR, and the previous trilogy of games, have come up with a clever work around: they’re leveraging Wayne Tech to guide the player in their investigation.
Any hints they need are provided by one of Batman’s gadgets.
It’s a clever solution to the very real UI problem. It also has a secondary effect: it informs the game’s overall narrative. Arkham: VR thrusts Batman into the role of The World’s Greatest Detective. It’s a murder mystey, and using your wits and gadgets is the only way to bring the perpetrator to justice. It will be a different experience for those used to the explosive action of the previous games, but based on my short time with the game, it will be no less satisfying.
Even the setting itself is a bit of a question. “Where it fits into the Arkham mythos is itself a part of the mystery,” said Dax Ginn, a developer with Rocksteady.
There’s no mystery about whether the game will be good; I think it will be great.
Besides, they had me at “I’m Batman.”
Batman: Arkham VR is exclusively available on PS4 and releases in October.
Thanks to Dax Ginn for chatting with me at San Diego Comic Con.