Batman Arkham VR PSVR
Batman Arkham VR’s runtime may be brief – about 90 minutes, depending on how long you linger in each location – but it’ll make you feel more like the Dark Knight in that short window of time than any other Batman game to date. The evocative act of slipping into that infamous cowl and utility belt isn’t even diminished when you inevitably start dancing like an idiot in the mirror Rocksteady handily provides.
This waifish game is a series of short set-pieces in which you get on with various iconic Batman tasks – such as being standoffish to Alfred while he patiently tries to help, or tormenting the Penguin for information – in between pawing at, picking up and chucking over your shoulder (or directly at Alfred) everything that isn’t nailed down. It’s immediate fun that manages to somehow balance Job Simulator’s wilful antagonism with a dark, sometimes upsetting plot.
The story sees Batman trying to locate an AWOL Nightwing and ascertain the identity of a killer loose in Gotham city. Some sections lean heavily on puzzle solving, while others are predominantly experiential rather than revolving around gameplay mechanics. When you’re permitted to use your gadgets (a grappling hook, a biological scanner and an endless supply of Batarangs) you’ll be investigating crime scenes, looking for evidence in morgues and distracting henchmen to get a sniping window for the AI-piloted Batwing.
In most scenes you’re able to move around a little by warping between points, but your freedom is limited as Rocksteady tightly choreographs each vignette. In one memorable sequence you’re rooted to the spot as the environment changes around you, to disturbing effect. At the centre of all of this is the Batcave, an area that acts as a hub from which you can conduct forensic analysis, track the locations of key characters and indulge in a spot of target practice on a training range. The various gadgets available to play with make for an amusing toybox at first as you figure out what each one does, but their appeal is short-lived.
Rocksteady has embedded some replay value in the form of an assortment of Riddler-set conundrums, which are unlocked once you finish the game, and they open up new warping locations in environments, making a second playthrough worthwhile. But the compact nature of the game’s arc means its narrative rhythm feels a little off and things clatter to an end well before you expect – or want – them to. That’s testament to the potent experience Rocksteady has created, but the irksome result is that it’s also easier to understand how Commissioner Gordon must feel after one of Batman’s fleeting visits.
Using the Move controllers with ArkhamVR reveals a sensitivity to lighting conditions that can reduce your virtual hands’ stability if the room you’re playing in isn’t optimal. For the most part, though, everything works well Developer Rocksteady Publisher Warner Bros Format PSVR Release Out now