Batman Arkham VR is both more than I expected and less than it should be. I’ve not watched any gameplay videos of the PSVR version and so I thought that it was mostly a series of galleries with minimal interaction. In a sense it is just a series of galleries, but the interaction is far more in depth than I had given it credit for. On top of that the environments look every bit as amazing as you would expect from a Rocksteady Batman game and so it makes it that much more forgivable that you can’t move around these scenes other than by teleporting to predetermined locations. While I tend to be a fan of superheroes in general I am one of the few that doesn’t understand the extreme fascination people have with Batman. Nevertheless I’ve played many Batman games in my time and this one, despite how it clips your batwings, had me feel the most like I’d stepped into the cowl.
Arkham VR focuses almost entirely on the detective aspect of Batman. The game is essentially a short mystery story where you are trying to find out what happened to Robin. Your search takes to to various places around Gotham and you meet up with several members of Batman’s gallery of rogues but you don’t really get to fight any of them. At one point you pay a visit to a villain (keeping this as spoiler free as possible) and you have to take out his thugs and string him up with your grapple wire. Except you don’t do any of this. You do one small action that triggers an event which darkens the screen and you hear people getting beat up then when the screen comes up again, you are standing in front of your adversary ready to question him.
This, I’m sad to say, is how the game handles any scene that a true Batman fan would want to experience. A Batman staple is the grapple gun, which you get in the game, but when you actually use it for grappling rather than for solving puzzles, you don’t actually get pulled along through the air like you would expect. Instead the scene fades to black and fades back in at the new location. At one point I get to choose which vehicle I travel in, the Batwing or the Batmobile. I stressed over the choice a little bit trying to decide whether or not I wanted to fly over Gotham or race through it at high speed. Turns out it didn’t matter. I was only choosing the sound effects that play over a dark screen while the new area loads.
To move around the game you look at a small circle with the Batman symbol in it that is hovering over an area you can go then click the A button and teleport to it. I wonder if it was done this way to all them to really put the detail in the things that needed detail and leave stuff that you wouldn’t be able see up close with less detail, while removing entirely things that you will never see. Free movement, or even being able to teleport to an area of my choosing as you can in other games like Robo Recall would have meant that every thing in the scene needed the same level of detail whether it was important to the story or not. This wouldn’t have been as much of a concern on PC, but this was released first on PSVR. The graphics are amazing so if this is why they chose to do it, fine. But if it was merely to prevent motion sickness I would rather they have given the option for free movement.
The scale of the game seemed off at times as well. When I first loaded it up I was really short. I assumed it was because I was Bruce Wayne as a child, but when I became adult Bruce I was still much shorter than I should have been. I ran the recalibration but it didn’t fix anything. I finally just decided to deal with it and play the game short. By the end of the game I didn’t notice it anymore so either it fixed itself or I got used to it. One of the first scenes in the game as Batman takes place in an alleyway. The scale was wrong there as well, like I was on a shrunken down set or something. I didn’t feel like a giant or anything, it just felt off. Again though, once I stopped thinking about it, I stopped noticing it.
The actual interactions are mostly scanning things. Scanning a scene for fingerprints, scanning a dead body for shrapnel, recreating crime scenes, etc. It’s not all scanning though. There are times when you have to use your Batarangs to hit buttons or grab items that are out of reach with your grapple gun. Despite the simplicity of the interactions and the ease of the puzzle solving I still found them to be very engaging and fun mostly because of how well it all works. When you recreate a crime scene you can scrub through it just by turning your wrist, when you throw a batarang it has a guidance feature that makes it hit the target every time, and yet it somehow still feels like it’s happening due to your skill. Aside from the few times when I tried to grab my grapple gun and came up with a batarang instead everything I did was satisfying.
Arkham VR has some of the best character models and animations I’ve seen in VR. You get right up close to these characters that you’ve seen in previous Rocksteady games and they looks as good as you would expect them to after playing those games. There is even a place in the Batcave where you can bring up character models and run them through a few animations. They can be life sized right in front of you, or palm sized on the tablet beside you. Seeing the Rockstead Joker up close and having his eyes follow you is every bit as creepy and unnerving as you would think it is.
If you haven’t already had the end spoiled for you, I’m not about to do that, but I will say that the end scene of the game genuinely creeped me out. I won’t go any farther than that, but it was effective, the way they chose to end the game.
My playthrough couldn’t have been much more than an hour, so the game is quite short. Especially considering it’s $22.99 price tag, but after it’s over you can go through again and find Riddler tokens which unlock new character models for viewing in the Batcave. I’ve not done any of that yet so I can’t say how much play time it will add, but it should be at least another hour I would wager given that you’ll have to play the whole game again. Normally I wouldn’t care at all about unlocking character models in a game, but when you view them life sized in VR, that makes them a whole different kind of treat.
Batman Arkham VR is a really cool game/experience. Is it $22 cool? That’s hard to say. I suppose that depends on how much $22 is worth to you and how big a Batman fan you are. As I said earlier, this is by far the most immersive Batman experience I’ve ever had, you do get to see the Batcave, throw a Batarang, be a detective, “meet” some of your favourite Batman characters and, perhaps best of all, see yourself as Batman in the mirror. When it’s over you’ll want more. And not just more of what you got, you’ll want what they didn’t give you. You’ll want to grapple around Gotham, fight, drive the Batmobile or Batwing, leap from buildings and glide with your cape. All the things Batman can do that you can’t do in this game are things you will leave the experience wanting to do. Hopefully this game sells like crazy and Rocksteady decides to give us another, fuller experience. Until then, this is the closest to Batman that we can be.
Daryle Henry | Dads And Dragons
Oculus ID: theregoes2
- Comfort Level 100%
- Graphics 95%
- Sound 90%
- Fun Factor 80%
- Presence 80%
- Overall 90%