Publisher – Rocksteady / Warner Bros. Interactive
Price – US $19.99 / EU €19.99 / UK £15.99 / AU $29.95
Release date – October 11th, 2016
Control Method – DS4, 2 x Move
Pro Patch – Yes
Digital only – No
Reviewed on – PS4 Pro
This review has been updated on 11-15-2018 to reflect changes made to the game since the original release.
Batman: Arkham VR is pseudo chapter in the now classic Arkham series of superhero action games. In those games you played as the titular character and bashed your way through hordes of enemies in an effort to save the lives of Gotham’s fair citizens. In Arkham VR, the action has been removed from the game and the emphasis now is more on those detective skills the Dark Knight is also known for as he tries to unravel what happened to Nightwing, a fellow hero who has gone missing.
As I said, gone from this game are any kind of combat sequences. Instead you are equipped with Batarangs, a scanner and grappling hook. Best experienced with 2 move controllers though the DS4 is supported, you pick up and manipulate objects by simple button presses and almost all the actions in the game involve you pushing, pulling or pressing different items. The opening stage introduces you to the base mechanics and soon enough you are off to Gotham to figure what happened to Nightwing. Each stage in this story plays slightly different with you maybe just using your grappling hook to move from point to point or maybe grab at something out of reach. You can toss batarangs, but other then a mini-game in the Batcave, are only used to solve puzzles, not against the baddies you come across (minus 1 tiny encounter). Lastly is your scanner which is nothing more than a universal story progression device as it serves different purposes at every locale you visit. Each stage requires a different objective to move through the story so whether you are looking for an errant fingerprint or need access a power panel out of reach, it may simple, but the game does an alright job of keeping the story moving and the light puzzling feel fresh.
Arkham VR looks great! putting you in 1st person mode allowing you to view portions of Gotham City in a whole new way. Character models, lighting, scenery; all of this game looks fantastic and thanks to post-launch PS4 Pro patch, is one of the best-looking games for the PSVR headset. The Batcave, city streets and Arkham are most of, but not all of the places you’ll visit, and the grittiness of this DC superheroes’ world is captured beautifully. The audio is also top notch, with all your favorite voice actors from the Arkham games reprising their roles and delivering some top-quality performances. Small touches like viewing your reflection and the ability to move around a little in the various levels make this an experience that is tailored to fans of the bat!
For everything done right here, there are still a few issues, the first being just how different this is from the main franchise. That’s not a bad thing per se, but the entire game really plays out more as an experience then a game. The story is solid, but the universal crime solving tool that you carry around is hilariously contrived and while it pushes the story along, it also degrades Batman’s detective skills as all you need to do is point that scanner at something until you trigger the next audio queue. Should you get stuck on any puzzles, the game is super forgiving, often just telling you what to do if you are taking to long thanks to some introspection from MR. Wayne. The campaign is relatively short, but once beaten you unlock the Riddler challenges, which are puzzles hidden through each of stage. These do add to the replayability, assuming you have a desire to finish them, but as they are all found in the levels you already played through once, it does feel a little redundant to go through again, though knowing what to do cuts the game time down quite a bit. Those unfamiliar with Batman and the Arkham series may be at a fair bit of loss as characters aren’t given time to establish themselves and clearly the developers assumed the people playing this would be somewhat familiar with Batman lore.
Arkham VR is best looked at as an experience rather then a game. The gameplay is shallow, the story is short, and it plays so differently from every other game in the franchise that it almost doesn’t belong. If you are a fan of the series, there are a bunch of Easter eggs scattered throughout the game and lots of fan service to check out. While it could be considered a shallow game, it’s a much more rewarding experience that puts you in this dark and gritty world and in the boots of one of the worlds greatest heroes!
What would I pay? $20US for this fine. It’s a fun, albeit brief Batman VR experience with some replayability and top of the line presentation.