Video games have become so chock-full of conceits that anyone without experience in the medium would be forgiven for laughing in the face of even the most blockbuster, AAA releases. When Mario doubles in size, we shrug it off as a tenet of Nintendo gospel, but the more rationally minded player would dismiss this in the face of perceived impossibilities. Depending on the focus, the relationship between player and player-character could be solidified or be totally broken by mechanical conceits.
Thankfully for Batman’s Arkham adventures so far, such conceits—like a steady gadget progression or a health bar—have enabled Warner Bros. Games to unleash what was previously unheard of: excellent Batman games that maintain tension and enrapture players with twisting plot lines. Both prior Arkham games proved successful in packing in more villains than a California penitentiary, but the latest Batman game from WB Montreal feels more forced than elegant, shedding light on how narrative ploys can weaken an experience too. While Black Mask’s bounty on Batman has attracted eight assassins to Gotham in a prequel to Arkham Asylum, players will find something more like a cast of benchwarmers than an elite killing squad out for Bat blood in Batman: Arkham Origins.