I’ll preface this review by saying that I’m not the biggest Batman fan. I’ve seen the movies and I’ve played through the Rocksteady games, but I’m by no means hugely engrossed in the lore of Batman. I feel like it’s important to state this, as from the moment I put on the VR Headset and suited up as Batman, I felt more engrossed in the world of Gotham than possibly any video game universe that I’ve ever been in.
The core gameplay of Batman: Arkham VR is incredibly different to what we’ve come to known and love in Rocksteady’s Batman games. The main point of difference being that there’s absolutely no hand-to-hand combat, which might surprise gamers as Rocksteady reinvented hand-to-hand combat in their Batman Arkham games. Instead, Batman: Arkham VR focuses on Batman’s detective skills.
You’ll be using gadgets such the scanner to solve a mystery involving Nightwing, Robin and some of Batman’s greatest villains. You’ll also have access to the grappling hook, which is used to go from point-to-point and your batarangs which are mainly used to hit switches. All of these gadgets work in perfect unison to create a unique, well-crafted experience.
Without giving too much away, the game begins perfectly. Starting with a familiar scene from Batman’s childhood before lowering you into the Batcave, you’ll slowly suit up as Batman and acquire the necessary equipment to become the bat. It was honestly an overwhelmingly believable experience. For the entirety of the game, I felt like Batman. Mirrors were well placed throughout the world to reinforce the feeling and I felt incredibly powerful and probably had a ridiculous smirk on my face for the majority of the time playing.
The game has probably one of the most in-depth calibrations of any of the launch VR titles, but it’s necessary as the game recommends that you use PlayStation Move controllers, which absolutely enhances the experience. For the most part, launching batarangs and aiming with the grappling hook went off without a hitch. The only main issues I faced were the usual tracking issues with PlayStation Move, when picking up items to read them closely.
It’s also worth mentioning that I thought that Rocksteady had worked out a perfect way of getting around in a game like this. You essentially look in a number of directions and press on the top button of the Move controller to instantly teleport to that location. It’s seamless, keeps you in the experience and my brain was able to handle it without ever feeling nauseous or motion sick. That’s impressive considering you are transporting from the floor to a pillar whilst on the top of a huge buildings in Gotham.
The other thing that I feel must be stated is the fact that the game literally lasts an hour. This might deter some people but I actually didn’t mind it. Sure, I was left wanting more, but that necessarily isn’t always a bad thing. It was a non-stop adventure that ended spectacularly. The amount of twists and turns placed in this hour adventure is almost unbelievable. I was that worn out emotionally by the end of it that I almost had to turn it off to take a break because of this, minutes before it being over.
When you’ve finished the experience, you’re able to jump back into Gotham to solve the Riddler puzzles. I’m glad that Rocksteady provided another reason to jump back into the immersive world, although it’s not as thrilling as the main experience.
Batman Arkham VR is one hell of an experience. It’s definitely one of my favourite VR launch titles due to the fact that it takes a set of well-known characters and lets you engage with them and Gotham like you’d never thought was possible. It’s something that every gamer or comic book enthusiast needs to experience. Overall, I was left wanting more and I definitely think that there was more potential with the gadgets that the game provides, but I was satisfied with how immersive the game is, which after all is the main intention of VR.
The PS4 version of this game was primarily tested for the purpose of this review.