If you know me or have seen my reviews, you know I was a huge fan of The Suicide Squad, the movie. Because of this, once I saw a Suicide Squad game coming out, I had to buy it. The problem was, it was a sequel to a game series called Batman: Arkham, none of them I had played before. So I decided to play every Batman: Arkham game before Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. The first is Batman: Arkham Asylum.
The story of Batman: Arkham Asylum is set nearly two decades after Bruce Wayne became Batman, so you need basic knowledge to know that. Arkham Asylum itself is an asylum for the most deranged and evil, as well as super-powered people, and is located on a remote island outside of Gotham City. The game opens with Batman bringing a captured Joker to Arkham Asylum with his Batmobile. However, the immediately off-putting thing is how easy it was for Batman to catch Joker. Growing suspicious, Batman follows the workers as they lock Joker up. Of course, this was an attempt from Joker to break out from the asylum and break out all of the villains, wreaking havoc on Gotham City.
Joker had been planning this incident for a very long time and has corrupt cops and institutional workers in on it. You, playing as Batman, have to find the Joker and put an end to his plans, but on the way have to face obstacles. I won’t spoil his actual plan, but it would theoretically let Joker rule Gotham City, something that Batman can’t let happen.
None of the previously mentioned parts of the story is what makes this game’s story so interesting, rather it is the secrets hidden throughout Arkham Asylum. Since the game is set in a very developed world, there are so many Easter eggs and captivating allusions to villains throughout Arkham Asylum. You can collect many things too, like interview tapes of villains or secret messages from the Warden himself, who is as crazy as the inmates. It’s so interesting to find out about all of the villains of this universe. One of my favorite Easter eggs is the one about Clayface, a villain who can shape-shift into anything he wants. If you go to a certain cell in Arkham Asylum you will see one of your friends stuck in a cell asking for help out. However, if you go away then come back, he will be a different friend. A cool moment that you might’ve missed out on if you weren’t observant.
The game-play of Arkham Asylum is captivating and is most comparable to Spider-man PS4 if you’ve played that in the past. You will have to fight goons and gain combos on them by performing different moves. It requires precise reaction time as you have to dodge incoming attacks and make sure your movement is constantly smooth, as to not miss a punch. You can upgrade your moves and how easy it is to get combos by getting Experience points, which can be gained from Riddler trophies or beating up enemies.
Another key feature of the gameplay is the abundance of stealth sections. Batman isn’t invulnerable and can die to bullets just like anyone else, so there are a lot of sections involving stealth. Much like normal combat, you can upgrade the variety of moves and what you can do in the stealth sections. But, you must keep quiet during these parts by crouching and stealthily knocking out enemies from behind. So that no enemy sees you, you can hide on gargoyles in most stealth sections and capture them from above if timed right.
The villains are easily the most memorable parts of these games, especially in the first game. So, I’m going to go through the main villains and briefly explain what they bring to the game.
Zsasz: The first villain you actively pursue in the game is a serial killer named Zsasz. He only appears twice and is taken down like any other enemy. The thing that is note-worthy about him is how crazy he is and how much he likes to kill.
Scarecrow: The next villain you see is probably the best in the game when it comes to memorability, as his power is fear. Once he appears throughout all of the game, it is sudden and slowly Batman goes crazy and has horrifying hallucinations. Eventually, you fight Scarecrow as a giant, he is pretty easy, but still very memorable.
Bane: Only briefly does Bane appear, but he is the game’s first official main boss fight. He is very clearly a tutorial boss to teach the player how to fight an enemy later in the game, but you have fun fighting him for the brief period he’s in the game.
Harley Quinn: Harley Quinn is Joker’s sidekick through the game and is a normal human, like Zasz. Her boss is just fighting hordes of enemies whilst timing not to get hit by electricity. Her boss is easily the worst, but she does fine as the annoying sidekick of Joker in the game.
Killer Croc: Another horrifying part of the game is the section with Killer Croc, as you find plants to collect the stalks you under the water. Once the tense music begins you know to run or else he will eat you whole. One of the scariest parts of the game, and is amazing even if how you defeat him is pretty basic.
Poison Ivy: Poison Ivy’s boss fight was easily the hardest for me in the game, as it is also the longest. Her power is controlling plants and she uses them against you as a giant plant that shoots projectiles at you. She also sends waves of enemies as she covers the ground with deadly plants, and it can be a bit tricky to beat her at first.
Joker: The main enemy of the game does not have the most revolutionary boss, in fact, I would call it pretty subpar. However his character throughout the game is apparent, and his relationship with Batman really shows. Mark Hamill’s voice acting will always be a treat, so nevertheless I really enjoyed his boss fight still. The Joker we see in these games is probably in my top three Joker interpretations throughout the years, and I loved every second of him in this game.
Overall, the game-play is extremely addictive but basic at times later in the game. Still, for most of the game, the fluid punches and critical attacks mixed with some great stealth parts lead to a solid game-play experience. The story is most memorable to me and the ambiance and atmosphere of the Asylum. It really fears like you are never safe from one of the many villains in the game. I love this game, it is easily one of my highlights already of this year, and I would give it a 90% on my review scale.