“It’s too short!” You hear the internet cry in uproar. Whilst it’s true that Arkham VR clocks in at just over one hour, those who criticise the game’s running time are overlooking one significant aspect: it’s one hour you get to be Batman.
Putting on the cowl of the Caped Crusader is something many have long waited for and with the use of PSVR, Rocksteady is able to deliver their take on the character in his very first virtual reality outing. Unlike Rocksteady’s previous Arkham entries, Arkham VR focuses purely on investigating and makes full use of Batman’s detective skills. A wise move this proves to be as somehow incorporating the freestyle fighting from previous titles would have left many gamers feeling dizzy and queasy if utilised in VR.
Following a brief introduction and calibration of the VR headset, the games throws you straight into the story which, despite the running time, is incredibly engaging. Once you don the Batsuit, Alfred informs you that Nightwing and Robin have disappeared and it’s up to you to locate your allies by investigating their most recent whereabouts, solve puzzles and come face-to-face (quite literally) with some of Batman’s most famous friends and foes.
Overall the story wasn’t overwhelming and certain situations felt quite predictable. For example going down into a sewer to explore Robin’s last known whereabouts, there’s only one villain you’re likely to meet in the dark. However, despite being presented with familiar situations from previous games, it doesn’t matter because this time you are living through them.
Rocksteady clearly has an unabashed respect and love of the Batman character and the labour of love really shines through. They have created an incredibly immersive experience and each sight and sound made me feel like I was in the Dark Knight’s boots. (It also made me come to the realisation that I could probably never be Batman!)
The game perfectly uses the VR technology to build tension and suspense throughout and I was surprised by how often I found myself hesitant to continue on due to what may be around the corner. In particular, the final act is incredibly tense for reasons I won’t go too deep into but let’s say that looking the Joker in the eyes is just as unnerving as I imagined.
The game does have it’s flaws outside of its duration and that is how restrictive it can be. As Batman you get access to a number of his famous gadgets including; the Grappling Gun, the Batarang and The Forensic Scanner but, whilst it is a thrill to feel you unhinge them from your Utility Belt, the game only allows you to use these gadgets when it sees fit. The freedom to move around freely is more or less nonexistent and the game tells you exactly where you need to stand and where to go in order to progress.
Arkham VR is light on gameplay but heavy with immersion. Whilst it isn’t the Batman simulator we were all hoping for, when I first placed the Cowl over my face and saw Batman staring back at me in the mirror, I paused for a split second to take in the moment.
The story isn’t particularly innovative and, incase you’re wondering, yes, we do see Bruce Wayne’s parents bite the bullet. However, with the use of VR the game is able to tell these familiar stories from a completely fresh perspective.
Despite the lack of gameplay diversity, Arkham VR is a fully enveloping experience that showcases the true value of virtual reality technology as it transforms the player into a new world. By placing the headset on, the games throws you deep into Gotham City and allows the player to live out their childhood fantasies of becoming the Dark Knight.
You can buy Arkham VR from Amazon.