There will be no more Batmen. There are a lot of bad guys out there, but only four heroes left to protect Gotham. After a promising introduction, however, Gotham Knights ultimately falls short despite carrying on the name of Rocksteady’s critically acclaimed Arkham game trilogy.
Sad News: A Death in the Family
Multiple times in their publications, DC has said that Batman is no longer alive. No Batman game, however, has ever been so daring as to eliminate him inside the first few minutes of the game.
Robin, Nightwing, Red Hood and Batgirl stand atop the wreckage of the Batcave and they have a mystery on their hands: it involves well-known bad guys and the Court of Owls, a shadowy organization of wealthy and influential individuals who have been at work for ages.
The story that develops is straightforward, albeit it does soon branch off into numerous unrelated subplots. Every morning, your Knights report to the Belfry, a massive skyscraper in the heart of Gotham, to check the detective board. When it’s time to go on patrol in the wide world, nightfall inevitably follows.
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Is it entertaining to play as the Gotham Knights? You can’t say that there isn’t a lot to do in the city. Some plots have a deeper significance than others; ones involving villains like Harley Quinn show how the city of Gotham has dealt with Batman’s death. However, there are far too many pointless activities—from treasures to bike races—in the game.
This Friday is the time to rise and protect Gotham City. #GothamKnights pic.twitter.com/0ommwIj8wU
— Gotham Knights (@GothamKnights) October 18, 2022
And this is nothing out of the ordinary. Rocksteady’s Arkham City and its sequel, Arkham Knight, both featured similar interpretations of Gotham. Gotham Knights aim to differentiate itself by offering a larger cast of characters to play as, allowing you to switch between four different protagonists.
Gotham Knights’ Gameplay
If nothing else, the Gotham Knights have a catchy name and logo. Each of the Bat villains has its own emblem and uniform, including Robin, Nightwing, Red Hood and Batgirl. Each hero has their own unique style when it comes to fighting crime.
While Robin is more of a sneak, Red Hood can get physical, while Batgirl is an expert coder. In addition, as they gain levels and acquire new equipment, you will be able to fine-tune their capabilities even more.
It’s a tried-and-true formula for open-world games to have each character start with three skill trees and a fourth that may be unlocked over time. Sadly, the wealth of armor and weapons for which you must carefully collect blueprints overwhelms the otherwise excellent growth mechanism.
In actuality, I ignored everything else and focused on the things that would bring the greatest benefit to my current skill set. It’s similar to Destiny 2, but a lot less exciting.
Combat is also confusing. In Gotham Knights, the parry system has been replaced by a simple dodge, which, if performed just before taking damage, can set up a devastating counterattack. However, I usually just mashed the buttons and spammed everyone’s special moves. The game encourages you to perform special attacks by timing them with patience and precision, but I found it difficult to keep time.
The enemies’ repetitive actions don’t help matters. An early explanation of a two-step process makes quick work of the comics’ primary antagonists, the Talons. Every variety of adversaries that makes an effort to stand out can be easily defeated because of their predictable tendencies. Fights despite a few flashy special combos lack the punch and grace that made them stand out in the Arkham games.
The Youngsters Aren’t Doing That Well
Evidently, Gotham Knights intend to bring a fresh crop of heroes to the world. Aside from the occasional cliche the writer manages to show off their unique characteristics through the smaller details. In an early operation, Nightwing makes fun of Red Hood for supposedly reading from Wikipedia during the debrief demonstrating that the four don’t take each other too seriously.
In-game correspondence is always enhanced by the inclusion of jokes written by the characters. In their underground stronghold, a rainbow pride flag flies proudly. All of these little touches create a charming portrait of contemporary Gotham.
Batgirl’s been a true Knight since Year One. #GothamKnights pic.twitter.com/E5a2YxengX
— Gotham Knights (@GothamKnights) October 19, 2022
Conventions of the past however drown out the new tenor. The Knights may have issues with the way the Gotham police operate, but they never pose any substantive questions about law enforcement.
On top of that, the Knights are haunted by their dead leader’s Bat-shaped shadow. Batman may be gone, but it hasn’t stopped anyone from talking about him. And just when the new kids’ stories were getting interesting, the main plot was wrapping up.
Indeed, this Bat Family was expected to live up to a very large cape. Both Batman and the Gotham Knights were unwilling to give them a chance to forge their own identities and legacies. The game’s premise is wasted.
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