About halfway through my time with the game, I quipped on Twitter that Arkham Knight has some of the best comic book writing in the sense that the writing is terrible, and while I’m not sure I think that’s exactly true (because there are some great comic books), I do think that the game suffers from some terrible comic book tropes that actively hurt the game’s ability to tell an engaging story. Characters die in dramatic moments only to reappear with an explanation akin to “you hallucinated, it’s magic.” There can be no true loss for Batman, because no matter what, he has prepared some kind of response. There’s a world where that could be engaging and interesting, but that world isn’t this one, and the reason is that there’s no setup. There’s a world of difference between “here’s Batman’s contingency plan, here’s the contingency, watch the plan work,” which could be a really engaging if ham-fisted way of writing as opposed to “here’s something bad, OF COURSE BATMAN PLANNED FOR IT,” which mostly seems like a bad way to write yourself out of a corner.
All of these story complaints put a different way: people often say that it’s difficult to write an engaging Superman story because he is all powerful. Arkham Knightsuffers for the same reason. The game’s story conflates Batman’s intelligence and wealth with the ability to prethink and out-expend anyone in the field of resources. Blow up his stuff? He has better stuff. Overwhelm him? He can now hack your weapons. Your dad is powerful? Batman is my dad and he can beat up any of your dads.
I reviewed the newest Batman game for Paste, and I’m pretty happy with it. Click here to check it out.