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Batman: Arkham VR

Batman: Arkham VR
Studios: Warner Interactive, Rocksteady
Platforms: PS4, PC
Release Date: PS4 - October 11th, 2016; PC - April 25, 2017
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Synopsis: Batman: Arkham VR immerses you in the Dark Knight's Universe and redefines what it means to be the Batman. Experience Gotham City through the eyes of the World's Greatest Detective in an all new Arkham mystery.

Think like Batman. Utilize his legendary gadgets in Virtual Reality to unravel a plot that threatens the lives of Batman's closest allies. Your quest to clean up Gotham has only just begun - and now it's even more terrifying than it's ever been. Batman: Arkham VR lets you become the Dark Knight in a virtual reality recreation of the DC's hero's more iconic locations.

Become the world's greatest detective and explore places such as Wayne Manor and the Batcave as you battle in a brand new and personal story set in Rocksteady's classic Arkham universe.

Batman: Arkham VR Review
By James Harvey

Wear the cape and cowl in Rocksteady Studios' Batman: Arkham VR, a flawed but legitimately captivating and immersive experience that comes to an end way too soon. Lasting just a couple hours, it's an unfortunately brief excursion through Gotham City, but an unforgettable one never-the-less. With a satisfying mystery to solve, clues to uncover and faces to punch (kinda), there's always something to do, but those expecting a game on par with any of the main Batman: Arkham entries will be left disappointed.

Batman: Arkham VR throws players deep into the Dark Knight's world to solve a Batman: Arkham mystery unlike any other. Enter this virtual reality where players must think like Batman and utilize his legendary gadgets to unravel a plot that threatens the lives of his closest allies. But, is Batman already too late...?

It's not hyperbole to say Batman: Arkham VR is one of the most immersive Batman games ever made. Playing from a first-person perspective, the game slips players under the virtual bat-cowl and gives them a "close to home" murder mystery to solve. From there, players essentially jump from clue to clue, location to location - all visually stunning and dripping with atmosphere - to crack the case. As mesmerizing as this all is, and there are times of legit awe, it's hard to shake the feeling that Batman: Arkham VR is more of a tech demo than a fully-realized adventure.

That being said, there's a lot of very cool stuff for fans to sink their teeth into in Batman: Arkham VR. Players get little tours of iconic locations, such as Wayne Manor and jaw-dropping Batcave, and this all plays out in the opening minutes as players get to walk in the shoes - somewhat - of DC Comics' biggest hero. It is admittedly oh so cool to put on that cowl and see Batman's reflection in the "mirror" before testing out gadgets and getting ready to hit the streets.

From there, the game really kicks in as the story comes into focus. Soon enough, players are out in the streets of Gotham rubbing elbows with some of the city's most heroic citizens, including the likes of Nightwing, Robin along with a small batch of the city's worst, including The Penguin. Disappointingly, the strong story idea that binds all this VR shenanigans together is disjointed and comes with a climactic twist that'll ruffle a feather or two. Add in the game's short run time and the story's impact deflates quickly.

Batman: Arkham VR's story is interesting, unquestionably, but it doesn't really gel with the game's format. Since each act of the story primarily takes place in one singular space before moving to the next, the game lurches ahead in chunks. Players interact with a few items, piece together a clue or two, perhaps hand an item to someone or vice-versa, and are then teleported to the next pre-determined part of the plot to repeat the process. There's no real groove or flow, things just keep moving and moving and then it's done.

Beyond the story, there's really not much else to do in Batman: Arkham VR outside of a few missions from The Riddler to play out. Batman: Arkham VR is an incredible experience at times, though it's fleeting with specific experiences clearly modified into something of a story. It's engaging, totally, but the bite-size game lacks that "complete" feeling without a cohesive narrative to make it all click.

In addition to the loose narrative and quick playthrough, Batman: Arkham VR is also very, very light in action. There are several moments where it feels like fists are about to be thrown when the screen just fades to black and thugs are taken care of off-screen. Players aching to look into The Penguin's eyes as he's being pummelled by Batman will be disappointed. While the game allows players to enjoyably interact with a lot of different environments and objects, fisticuffs are off the table.

There's clearly a lot of work put into Batman: Arkham VR, especially when it comes to the environment creation and interactive elements, not to mention another solid performance by actor Kevin Conroy as Batman, but the game does feel a little lacking. A longer experience and a stronger story would've really helped things click together on a more satisfying level, though there's a lot still to enjoy within. There are moments that will take the player's breath away, but that feeling gets diminished when it's immediately followed by searching a room for clues that are (very) obviously highlighted for the player to find. Where's the challenge there?

And that's the rub, really. There's no real challenge because the developers want the players to experience everything here, all the VR tech, though understandably so. But as a result, players are led through a series of vignettes to mostly interact and explore areas, with a moment or two of very Arkham-esque psychological horror tossed in for good measure, and not much else. To compare Batman: Arkham VR to an amusement park ride (fittingly) wouldn't be far off.

Batman: Arkham VR is a heckuva great time during its first play-through, but that's ... really it. There's barely any replayability here and the story isn't strong enough to want to experience again, despite a couple neat narrative twists. It's an ultimately fun and legitimately neat first step into the world of Arkham VR, but the shallow interact-ability and narrative depth make this more of a fun done-in-one adventure than a true VR trip worth riding again and again. Recommended, but enter at your own risk.

The author purchased a copy of this game for the purposes of this review

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