With Batman’s origins in 1939, the lore around the character has grown massively over the years. Bruce Wayne has become more complex, the city he operates in has quickly become one of the best in fiction, and his associates are continuing to forge their own path. Gotham Knights will explore the lives of the Bat Family not long after Batman’s tragic and untimely demise, focusing on how they react to the ever-present and looming threat of the Court of Owls. It’s a game that has all the tools to succeed, especially as it’s a part of a universe so ripe for intriguing narratives to take place.
Gotham City has a history of crime, violence, and corruption. Batman is just a spoke on a constantly changing and rotting wheel, but his villains are perhaps more ingrained in the city’s lore as they so frequently leave their mark on the skyline. From Joker’s evil deeds to Penguin’s vicious ambitions in Gotham’s criminal underworld, the bad guys that Batman faces are critical to the reverence of the city he calls home. When they’re not committing crimes with city-wide implications, many of them reside in Arkham Asylum, and while WB Montreal includes this facility in the game, such a move runs the risk of not spotlighting other locations and underserving this one.
Gotham Knights’ Gotham City Gotham-knights-gotham-city Gotham Knights will likely rely on the tried-and-tested familiarity of Gotham City, including iconic locations to make the area feel familiar to fans. Arkham Knight presented a version of the setting that was met with mixed results, and Gotham Knights would do well to differentiate itself from what came before, offering a different tone and aesthetic to a city that’s seen a myriad of revisions and takes over the years.
The Asylum is only present in Arkham Knights in a small and subtle way, which allows the game to focus on areas that had yet to be explored in the series. The GCPD Building, ACE Chemical, and Riddler’s Lair are all featured in the 2015 game and are given so much screentime because Arkham Asylum can only be seen in the distance. As such, Arkham Knight feels like a different geographical and narrative approach to Arkham Asylum, and Gotham Knights should adopt a similar formula if it wants to recreate the city in an engaging and unique way.
Rocksteady’s Perfect Take on Arkham Asylum Batman overlooking the Asylum Rocksteady undoubtedly has the monopoly on Batman-centric video games, and this all began in 2009 with the release of Arkham Asylum. Taking place in the titular hospital for the criminally insane, the game was a love letter to fans of the property and effortlessly matches the gothic, suspenseful, and psychologically compromising tone of the comics. Arkham Asylum’s halls were tight, cramped, and dripping with atmosphere, and Batman never felt like the predator like he was in later Arkham titles. It was far more impactful than the open world that Arkham City presented because it always felt as though Batman was fighting a losing battle.
While the characters were all well written, acted, and implemented, Arkham Asylum’s setting was the main character. Much like BioShock’s Rapture, Arkham Asylum is a place that always seems to further corrupt its residents, and with Gotham Knights including the facility, it will surely be compared to what Rocksteady achieved 13 years ago. Gotham Knights will have to spread its attention to detail across all of Gotham whereas Arkham Asylum wasn’t stretched as thin, making it unlikely that WB Montreal will be able to mimic the magic of what came before.