Lately, I’ve been playing Batman: Arkham Asylum when I’m in the mood for a single player game. I’ve somehow managed to avoid spoilers and the game in general for a long time. I found it on sale earlier this month and for whatever reason I was in the mood to do bat things. And there are a lot of bat things to do like throwing batarangs, sulking in the shadows, and being reminded for the hundredth time that Bruce Wayne’s parents are still dead.
I’ve had a love hate relationship with Batman. On the one hand, I grew up on the animated series cleverly called Batman: The Animated Series. I didn’t know going in that Batman and The Joker were voiced by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil from the animated series and that already makes this game amazing.
On the other hand, the Christopher Nolan movies defined Batman as a character for a long time. As much as I wanted to be as hyped as the people around me about these movies, they just didn’t do anything for me.
So I swore off all things Batman for a while. That is until I discovered the excellent comic series written by Scott Snyder in 2013. My faith in Batman was restored. He was a cool, mystery solving, gadget wielding, action hero Batman again and not some grainy, over dramatic, lets yell at everyone in a gravely voice Batman.
I didn’t even see Batman Vs Superman, I just didn’t need that in my life.
But Back to Arkham Asylum. I really didn’t know what to expect going into this other than I would be Batman and the Joker probably had some horrible plan up his sleeve. The whole opening scene I was sitting there just waiting for Joker to escape. It took a lot longer than I thought it would. But the gist of it is that Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum for his own nefarious ends and Batman has to stop him. Pretty standard stuff.
I’m about 20% in and I can’t stop playing it. I love the little character Bios you can collect, I love the voice recordings you can find of therapists meeting with super villians like Scarecrow and Killer Croc, and I wasn’t expecting to love the Riddler Challenges so much. Every new area usually has some riddle and you have to use Batman’s
withcer senses detective mode to find a certain object and scan it. Then the Riddler says some demeaning comment about your intelligence and you get on with your game. They’re really quite addicting…except the annoying ones but I’m not a completionist so I skip those.
Those Scarecrow levels though, those are weirdly fun. They take the game from a 3d stealthyish game to a 2d side-scrolling stealthyish game. It adds a little variety to the somewhat repetitive game play.
Not that repetition is bad, it’s actually a pretty satisfying game play loop of find some clues, hide in the shadows and swoop down on your unsuspecting foes, and then beat them up until they’re unconscious, find out a little more about the Jokers plan, then rinse and lather. The combat is so simple and yet its fun. It’s Assassin’s Creed style beat up your enemy until another one attacks, parry them, and then go back to beating up your enemy. Plus you get the super slow mo finisher scenes when you defeat the last bad guy. I thought they’d get old…they haven’t yet.
It’s been a long time since I played a super hero game but I always find them fun. They just make you feel like your in a comic book or movie. Instead of reading and watching your favorite hero fight bad guys, you get to fight bad guys as your favorite bad guy.