Rocksteady’s Journey to Batman: Arkham Knight

Posted April 30, 2015 by Cody Rostron in Video Games

Do you remember what you thought the first time you heard about Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum? I can’t imagine it was excitement, it certainly wasn’t dread either it was just a “Meh” feeling. Superhero games and batman games, in general, are not usually good, there are some apparent exceptions. But, for the most part, comic book characters don’t have the best reputation when it comes to games. Or at least they used to, Rocksteady changed all that.

The first thing that peaked my interest in the game was hearing who was voicing the titular Joker and Batman. Mark Hamill (who is apparently famous for other things.) and Kevin Conroy are the definitive voices of those characters, so once I heard that they had my attention. The second thing that got me genuinely excited was the news that Paul Dini was writing the game, famous for the animated series before him. But as we all know game play is king when it comes to a successful video game.

With the pedigree behind them Rocksteady was poised to either make a fantastic Batman game or wonderful story about a failed Batman game, luckily for us it was the first one. When the game released, it was a surprise to most people that it was so great. The term Metroidvania is thrown around a lot these days and probably for a good reason, everything has traces of that classic style in it. But Arkham Asylum took that form and made you feel like a claustrophobic billionaire trapped in a lunatic asylum. The world of Batman is filled with in-jokes and minutia that fans just eat up, and the game design is structured so that you get to see all that as you run around the asylum looking for new clues and hallways to explore.

You have never been as scared as these two men right now…

Arkham City then Made that Metroidvania style and put it in a blender with a sandbox game. In no way is this Grand Theft Auto or Skyrim. It’s just a bit more open then that crazy house on an island. The sequel had all the favorites of the previous game, the combat was top notch, the voice acting and art style were in pristine condition. And of course it the game made you feel like Batman, Stalking criminals and punching them in the face. But it improved on so much, the city was destroyed, and decrepit filled to the brim with little Easter eggs and clues about the world you were playing. But one of the many reasons that Batman: Arkham City is one of my favorite games of all time is the fact that Rocksteady at this point in its career is the definition of confidence. And the opening suggests as much, it’s bleak, and impressive the way Bruce Wayne is tossed into a prison he helped fill with psychopaths.

It would seem that Rocksteady is trying to raise the bar again, Batman Arkham Knight is a few months away, and it looks incredible, whether that will translate into a great overall game is another story. But Rocksteady hasn’t let us down yet, from fantastic additions like the Batmobile and an enormous city of Gotham to lurk over. This game is primed to be one of the biggest games of the year. A very select amount of games take over social media when they release, Bloodborne, for example, is the entire embodiment of the internet right now. Everybody is playing it. I have to imagine that Batman will take that same path.

This is what Batman would look like if he worked for the government.

Arkham City ended with the mic drop to end all mic drops. Without spoiling anything (but seriously go play it.) it would be hard to top that finale, so Rocksteady needs something new to shake things up, that’s where the character Arkham Knight comes in. One of the things I love about Batman is his choice not to kill, so obviously characters in the past have been written to be the hero he can’t be. By executing criminals, they can save Gotham. And that’s the primary focus of this Arkham Knight, he’s doing what Batman can’t. Speculation has run wild about who this character is, even though Rocksteady has said that its a brand new character, people are still skeptical. The second and more recognizable Villian filling the Joker’s Shoes is Scarecrow, someone we didn’t even get to see in Arkham City, unless ou found his mask on the bridge and his creepy little boat in the harbor. A highlight of Arkham Asylum was the drug sequences with the scarecrow; Arkham City tried to replicate that with Mad Hatter and Ras Al Ghul to limited success. But no that Dr. Crane is back to be the ‘Main’ heavy, it will be interesting to see what balance they strike with an underused villain.

The Azrael side mission from Arkham City spoke of a prophecy about”dark days” to come. It stated that a warrior would rise and save Gotham but would fall from the effort and from the same fires that will soon burn Gotham, Sounds pretty ominous. And if the Arkham Knight logo gives us anything it’s the Bat symbol on fire. I could write for days about fan theories about who Arkham Knight is or who the heck Johnny Charisma is. But I feel like a lot of that is best left for when the game releases. Rocksteady has built the trilogy up from small fanfare to the biggest game of the summer. It will be sad if this is truly their last journey through Gotham, but I can’t imagine they would end it without significant payoff. And who knows maybe this is just their last solely Batman game. Whatever the future holds for Batman and Rocksteady this series is primed and set to end on a high note.

About the Author

Cody Rostron

Writer, Graphic Designer, and Artist, But most importantly a huge nerd.