REVIEW: BATMAN ARKHAM VR, Become the Bat and stub your toe

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Believe it or not, there was a time where people were worried Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham Asylum wouldn’t sell. Two million units in the first month answered a lot of questions. While it’s been a slow process, comics in gaming are getting their due. With the arrival of Virtual Reality, it’s only fitting that Rocksteady brings the Dark Knight into this new frontier of gaming with Batman Arkham VR for PlayStation VR.

The question is what kind of game did fans get?

Well, that depends on what you think a video game should be. On the surface, Batman Arkham VR is a $20 game which only takes a little over an hour to finish. Granted that’s not a great selling point. Yet for such an uphill messaging battle, Arkham VR nails what a VR experience needs to be. From the start in Wayne Manor; you’re thrust into the Arkham world created by Rocksteady. The look of the game is the gritty modern deco world we know, though the resolution of the PSVR headset diminishes some of the look from the previous games. Even doing so it doesn’t take away from how intense the game can feel. You’ll make use of two PlayStation move controllers. Think of them as Wiimotes, we all held those at some point. Here you’ll use motion to choose between grappling gun, scanner, or Batarang by reaching for different sides of your waist. Warning, choosing a Batarang by reaching for your crotch should be done carefully every time; unless you don’t want to bear children. It might hurt if you panic and hit yourself in the mancave but there’s no more satisfying feeling than reaching back and letting a Batarang fly.

Arkham VR is predominantly a puzzle solving game wrapped in a mystery. Stepping into the cowl isn’t all playboy parties and corporate board meetings. Batman will have a missing person (Nightwing!) case to solve and it’s up to you to do it for him. Scanning bodies, recreating crime scenes and throwing batarangs sound like old hat for Batman Arkham games. Not quite. VR changes the gameplay we know from Arkham’s fast paced free flow combat to a more cerebral type of game. Instead of moving freely, your movement is controlled by clicking the area you want to go to or grappling to it. VR gaming is about delivering a new feeling you can’t get anywhere else and here Rocksteady give you a fresh way to play in a world you already know.

Back when the game was first announced at E3, I thought this might be a title which Rocksteady probably farms out to another developer. To my surprise, when we saw the title at the WB booth none other than Arkham director Sefton Hill was showing off the game. The team had talked about them working on this title and taking on the challenge of VR even after saying they were done with Batman.

Batman Arkham VR is a must own for everyone early adopting PlayStation VR and the best game among the PSVR launch lineup. Though it doesn’t necessarily make it an app that will sell hardware.  It’s a paradox of a short game, yet such a fantastic experience. A limited experience laced with potential. So it depends if you as a consumer can see such a small game as an evolutionary pivot. VR is gaming’s most luxurious investment. Should you fork over the cash for PSVR instead of buying about  8 regular new release games, 355 McDoubles, or 155 DC Rebirth titles then another $20 for Batman Arkham VR isn’t going to make-or-break your situation and you’ll be in for the game that makes a great argument for VR gaming over traditional gaming.

I want to note, the game allows you to choose between sitting or standing. Let’s face it a real Batman doesn’t sit unless Alfred is bringing dinner. Mind your surroundings, it’s easy to lose your own position and bump into things. So so so easy : (

Note: Batman Arkham VR requires PlayStation VR headset, PlayStation Camera, and 2 move controllers to play on top of owning a PlayStation 4.