For a long time, most Batman games failed to deliver. But in 2009, Rocksteady Studios changed everything with Batman: Arkham Asylum. From his debut in Detective Comics #27 to the wildly successful Dark Knight movies, the Batman has a long, varied history, which Arkham Asylum embraces. The game’s setting, the eponymous Arkham Asylum, houses Gotham City’s most dangerous criminals. Batman’s attempt to secure his nemesis, the Joker, goes wrong fast as the villain escapes, taking control of Arkham Island. The Dark Knight must now retake Arkham from its deranged inmates and end the Joker’s plans before it’s too late.
Gameplay is varied, consisting of alternating fight, stealth, platforming, and detective sequences, along with some cool extras. Combat seamlessly free flows between attacking and counterattacking different foes. To keep the combat fresh, the game introduces new enemy types who can only be countered with new strategies. Additionally, Batman must fight several enemies of his Rogues’ Gallery, further changing up the combat mechanics, especially with the twisted Scarecrow sections.
The stealth portions are designed around incapacitating thugs in arena-like rooms. The player has many options for taking down each criminal, especially with gadgets like the Explosive Gel and the Batarang. If the player is spotted, they will need to hide quickly to survive. Giving credence to Batman’s title as the World’s Greatest Detective, Rocksteady devised Detective Mode, a special scanner that views enemies and items through walls and tracks trails of evidence to advance the plot. Unfortunately, the blue-tinted Detective Mode’s usefulness causes players to depend on it, making them miss out on the game’s jaw-dropping graphics.
The memorable soundtrack takes cues from the animated series and the Nolan movies. The superb voice acting cast features actors from the animated series, including Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. The script’s brilliant characterization mixes the best aspects of each character from different media, further enhancing these characters, especially the Joker.
Arkham Asylum pleases fighting and stealth game aficionados, but most caters to fans of the Batman. While the conclusion is slightly lacking, the game itself accomplishes a lot, showing us what the industry can really do.