Take a quick look around the web and there’s a chance you’re gonna find some negativity surrounding Gotham Knights. We’re only a few days from release, but excitement seems pretty muted as fans may be preparing themselves for a disappointing adventure.
Thus far, despite how close the game is to release, the review embargo has yet to be lifted. WB Games has been rather tight-lipped about when that embargo will lift, which could be interpreted as a sign that the game is going to be a weaker journey.
It seems there’s plenty of disdain to go around with the game, but one criticism that Gotham Knights is facing is in its cringe-inducing writing and dialogue. Grunts deliver lines like “You burn now, grass! No one will ever mow you again!” that feel childish and awkward, while Harley Quinn battles to the tune of a cover of Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Moments like this try to go for something more tongue-in-cheek to balance out all the action the player will inevitably engage with.
These choices, though, have been a massive point of contention among gamers looking forward to Gotham Knights. In one breath, the writing sticks to the comic’s roots and goes for something much lighter in tone, which makes it a reprieve from the more serious tone that WB Games went for with the Batman: Arkham series. On the other hand, some feel that it sticks a little too close to the roots, to the point where it comes across rather cringe-y.
The one thing that could absolutely make the game worthwhile in spite of this is if the gameplay is good. Even still, this has been a major sticking point for some players, especially as the news has surfaced that Gotham Knights will be locked at 30 FPS and will not offer a performance mode. A less smooth experience could be another sign that the gameplay just won’t feel satisfying.
That being said, maybe some entertaining gameplay is all the game truly needs at the end of the day. An action game like this featuring combat on the level of the Arkham series could make it much easier to live with those cringeworthy elements of the game.
That’s not to say the game should play exactly like the Arkham series. After all, it needs to establish its own identity, and the developers are certainly working to do that. But what’s important is that the combat feels as satisfying and impactful as Arkham’s did.
In fact, the free-flow combat was one of the biggest pillars of the Arkham series, with its rhythmic, pattern-based system helping it strike a perfect balance by being easy to pick up but challenging to master. The common phrase that the Arkham games “really made you feel like Batman” was more than just buzzwords: the combat captured the weight and punch that the Caped Crusader is known for.
Gotham Knights doesn’t need to do that to a tee, but it does need to make combat encounters feel meaningful. There’s already a certain smoothness to what’s being offered in the game, and it appears the combat is tethered based on the hero that you’re playing as. It does build nicely on the foundation offered by Arkham, and it feels like WB Games Montréal has found a decent jumping-off point for getting the game started.
A big hope, though, is that it has some sense of impact. The developers can’t let the combat get to the point where it feels overly bland. Early impressions indicate that it does lean more on the side of blandness, which is an understandable cause for pause. But hey, there could easily be some sense of playfulness to its combat that gets better as it goes along, and if that’s the case, I can live with the cringy nature of the game if it’s still fun to play.
Another area that could help aid that potential enjoyment is the open-world. One of the great things that made Batman: Arkham City such a special game was the excellence of its open-world. It was beautifully designed, but there was an incredible sense of discovery in it that made for one of the most rousing games in the genre yet.
Gotham Knights seems to have the traversal elements down already, but it needs to make sure its world is populated and filled with life. Early signs may point to the game’s world being a bit bare, which could be a sticking point for players. But perhaps WB Games Montréal will be able to take a “work smarter, not harder” approach around the open-world. Maybe they’ll be able to streamline elements of it to not be so overwhelming. After all, not every superhero game needs to have the scale of the Arkham series; there’s beauty in knowing your limits and making something a bit more bite-sized, focusing more on the fun than the bloat.
At this point, some may find it a bit hard to get all that excited about Gotham Knights. The writing looks to induce more than a few groans, and recent news about the gameplay has raised a few concerns. Just days away from release, the nervous anticipation has mounted as some understandably worry about WB Games’ current direction with the game.
Furthermore, with the recent delay of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League to 2023, DC fans will have to wait a bit longer to get a look at Rocksteady’s next big turn in the DC world. This could really help hold fans over until the next entry in the Arkhamverse, but if the game ends up being as lackluster as it looks, fans may end up feeling a tad uneasy.
All that said, though, maybe the game doesn’t have to do too much. While the Arkham comparisons may have been inevitable, not every comic book game has to reach the scale and level of that franchise. A fun little offshoot such as this could be just what the doctor ordered, and as long as the game is fun to play, all that cringe-inducing writing could be easier to swallow.
Sure, it could disappoint, but with WB’s fantastic history of superhero games, Gotham Knights could carve out its own niche as a solid addition to the comic book video game lineup. And honestly, having been burned before by Marvel’s Avengers, I’d be more than okay with Gotham Knights just being a fun ride with enjoyable gameplay. Who knows, maybe that cheesiness could end up being part of the charm. We’ll have to find out in a few days.
Until then, how are you feeling about Gotham Knights? Are you excited to finally play it, or have you been skeptical? Let us know in the comments!
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