Batman: Arkham VR - Review

“How do you feel when you put on that mask? Are you hiding from the world? Or do you want the world to hide away from you? Maybe you feel invincible, more than just a man…..

Or maybe you’re just like me, you see that life is nothing but a sick joke and so choose a face to match, but what happens when we become what we pretend to be?

When illusion becomes reality?

Does it even matter, after all if you find a mask that fits; you never need to take it off. Ha Ha Ha AH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Batman: Arkham VR, released as a launch title for the PlayStation VR, brings the Gotham City of the Arkham trilogy alive and places you firmly in it. Developed by Rocksteady and published by Warner Brothers Interactive Arkham VR allows you to suit up, wear the Cowl, and become the Bat to find Nightwing and Robin.

Without going into the details of the plot and giving away any spoilers, this game really needs a prior knowledge of the story arc across all three Arkham games that make up Rocksteady’s trilogy. The Bat Mobile, Bat Wing, Batman’s gadgets as well as the Bat Suit all feature here from Arkham Knight, and the previous ideas and story follow on from Arkham City and Knight through to the VR title. Without having played those games previously it may feel a little confusing as to how and why certain things have developed. With that being said, Arkham VR feels more akin to a DLC episode of the latest game Arkham Knight, rather than a stand-alone game and the length of the first play through (just over an hour) shows you a glimpse of the potential of VR, but your left wanting more.

From the moment the game loads up, you are placed on top of the GCPD (Gotham City Police Department) Station next to the Bat Sign. The VR headset allows you to look all around and take in the city skyline of Gotham, as well as view the tiny cars driving along the streets below. It feels like you have actually been placed inside the city of the Arkham games, and from past experience it is all too familiar, but rather than from a third person perspective on a flat screen, you are immersed in it.

There are plenty of awesome moments that Arkham VR produces, and probably the most iconic is the descend down into the Bat Cave from Wayne Manor which impressively opens up all around you as you enter the cave.  The other is the placing the famous cowl on your head and looking in a mirror as The Batman.

The gameplay can only be described as a point and click interactive adventure. Don’t go into Arkham VR expecting to be throwing down punches and roundhouse kicks to thugs and henchmen as the Dark Knight, but rather expect to be utilizing the detective skills that were used in the previous Arkham Knight game. At the beginning of the game you are given three gadgets to hook on the utility belt, the scanner (much like detective mode to scan areas for clues), the Batarang (to throw in order to activate switches), and the Grapple Gun (to retrieve objects, and move from location to location).

With the infancy of VR coming into our homes, the limit of space in lounge rooms sees your Batman being fixed to one spot in a location and either using triangle to move around a room or scene, or the grapple gun to move to other locations (through fast travel). The title utilizes the Move Controllers and recommends it, which will see you point the grapple gun to a target before firing, or moving Batman’s hands to pick up objects. My initial play through was sitting down and using the controller, but a second play through standing up using Move Controllers is definitely on the cards.

All the voice actors from the Arkham games return, and nothing is more disturbed and pleasing than hearing Mark Hamill’s Joker. Just like the Gotham story arc of the previous trilogy this game is dark and can produce the odd jump moment, or creepy interaction. All I’ll say is getting up close with the Joker, his eyes follows your every movement. If your head moves to the left his eyes and head move with you, it was cool, awesome but also very creepy.

Batman: Arkham VR is a short episodic expansion of the Arkham Knight game of the series, but beautifully brings the iconic locations of the Batman Universe alive and all around you. It shows you what might be in the future, and the potential of what VR can bring without expanding upon it. After the initial play through, the game unlocks Riddler Trophies to find in your second play through, but other than that it doesn't offer much more to the story. Batman: Arkham VR is truly a brilliant piece of work, the best graphical VR title I have played to date, yet it is disappointingly thin on content, that leaves you wanting so much more.

Batman: Arkham VR is available on PlayStation VR

Aussie Gamers Express
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