Let's be honest here: you wanted to be Batman at some point in your life. It's okay to admit it, everyone has. Now we have Batman: Arkham VR to finally give people the chance. Yet are we finally living the dream, or is being Batman little more than dead parents and sadness?
Taking place somewhere between Arkham City and Arkham Knight, Batman: Arkham VR opens up with Batman having a problem: Nightwing and Robin have both gone missing. It isn't long before Nightwing's corpse turns up in an alleyway, with the only witness being one of Penguin's men. Something feels off about the whole thing, however, as Batman continues to search for clues behind Nightwing's death and Robin's disappearance. Arkham VR's plot is a surprisingly interesting one, and it's all capped off in a twist that I actually thought was rather brilliant. Yet Arkham VR is also in a weird spot with the other games. Players who haven't gotten to Arkham Knight yet will likely be confused by the twist, as it only really makes sense with context from that game. Yet those who have played it will likely see the twist coming from some ways away and be less interested in it. It's a shame it's in such a spot, as it works quite well otherwise.
Using the PlayStation Move controllers as each of Batman's hands, Arkham VR is, for the most part, a puzzle game. You'll spend most of your time investigating locations and solving simple puzzles while experiencing the story. Batman has a few gadgets at his disposal, including his batarangs, his grappling hook, and a scanner. You can use a gadget simply by reaching down to your utility belt and grabbing it, something that never ceased to get old. A simple flick will toss a batarang at a target, which was always fun to watch, while the other tools require just aiming and using the trigger.
You'll use these tools in interesting ways to solve the game's puzzles. One early game puzzle requires you to use the scanner to recreate a crime scene CSI styled. You can rotate the scanner in your hand to play the crime forwards or backwards to watch it happen, hitting the trigger at important events. Another puzzle has you replacing fuses in a broken box, using clues from another side of a cell to match up numbers on the fuses themselves with the letters on the box. None of it was really so complicated that I needed a guide or anything, but it's a fun bit of content. On the other hand, I am a little disappointed that the entire game is just solving puzzles and interacting with things. There's no action of any kind, and not once did I get to punch a thug in the face or something similar. It's such a big part of Batman that leaving it out really is a shame.
Arkham VR takes about an hour to finish, and once you do, Riddler shows up with his usual trophies and riddles to hide around the game world. If you're interested in solving Riddler's challenges, you can probably get another hour or two out of the game. They require some creative interaction, and add puzzles in places that I wouldn't have originally expected. For example, one required me to line up a few different parts in the Batcave, getting a radio and a spotlight coordinated. Another had me looking over a map of Gotham, replacing buildings as I had to use dots on the bottom of buildings to reach a specific number. It's a cool bit of extra content, one that helps lengthen the game in a way that doesn't feel forced. Your reward for finding these Riddler trophies comes in the form of new character models and vehicles to explore in the Batcave.
There's some fun to have in just kind of getting to play around in the Batcave. The biggest portion of the game by far, and where the game dumps you off after you finish it, the Batcave allows you to mess around with some of Batman's toys and view character profiles and vehicles. You can bring up holograms, getting to see and spin around life-sized versions of each character. You can also use the Batcomputer to create versions of their weapons. Ever wanted a chance to swing around Harley Quinn's baseball bat or Ra's al Ghul's sword? It's mostly here, albeit there's nothing to actually use it on. You can just swing it around the Batcave for a few moments before putting it down. You can also partake in some batarang throwing challenges, or mess around with some of the Batcomputer's tools. Nothing really revolutionary or game changing, but some fun bonus content.
This describes a lot of Arkham VR, though. Nothing revolutionary, but kind of fun. It's a game that really tries to get away with the fact that it's on VR as its gimmick a little longer than it really should be. It would never fly without VR, though it's not like it would really be possible without VR, but that's basically its thing. Arkham VR does serve as a good introduction to VR game, getting people used to the system without providing anything that will make them motion sick or confused, or any other way that VR may give them trouble. Yet for gaming veterans, they may find themselves with not much to do.
If nothing else, Arkham VR is at least a nice looking game. I bought into the illusion of actually being Batman several times, thanks to some fantastic work both technically and artistically. An early scene taking place inside of the Wayne Manor is amazingly colorful, a different side into the life of Batman. Later a trip to Arkham Asylum is genuinely creepy, with the final scene making some fantastic use of knowing where you are and aren't looking. If you want a good piece to show off PlayStation VR with, Arkham VR is a great choice.
It really is too, with Batman: Arkham VR likely going to be my recommendation to first time VR users. Seasoned gamers may enjoy it as well, though it's not quite substantial enough for much beyond first time VR use. It's fun while it lasts, but I wish it had some more. I guess I still need to dream about the day I become Batman.
Batman: Arkham VR was reviewed on a PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
Batman: Arkham VR offers some fun puzzles and use of tools, but its lack of action scenes and short running time keep the game from really making you feel like Batman.
- Puzzles Are Clever
- Story Takes Interesting Twist
- Messing Around in the Batcave is Fun
- No Action Scenes
- Not Much To Do