If you’re not bracing for it, the moment Batman VR comes online will stun you. You’re standing on a roof top overlooking Gotham City. The police department is behind you, the dreary city streets are below you, and the bat signal is beaming high overhead. I have a bit of experience with VR and this opening moment still grabbed me. The subsequent hour-or-two I spent being Batman was similarly visually arresting. I had some amazing moments and was surprised at how immersive the whole experience was. While it’s pretty short and fairly passive to be called an awesome game (particularly when compared to other Rocksteady titles), Batman Arkahm VR is a first rate virtual experience.
Storywise, Batman VR ties in pretty neatly with Arkham Knight (which is a little odd as I believe Arkham Knight was the earlier game). A menacing figure has committed extremely violent crimes around Gotham at the same time both Robin and Nightwing have gone off the grid. As Batman, you’ll investigate crime scenes in alleyways, rough up hoodlums for information, do a little detective work in the morgue, and face a few of the figures from Batman’s rogues gallery. The best part here is the return of the incredible voice acting from the Arkham series as many of my favorite characters popped in for a few lines of dialogue. Just be warned, though, that if you’re looking for a game to show off VR to your friends, this is a pretty dark story that younger Batman fanatics may not enjoy too much.
Gameplay is pretty intuitive; the motion controllers let you move to assigned spots in the locations you visit as well as acting as your hands. While I still find clenching my fists in the mirror as though Batman was performing a puppet show hilarious, the ability to grab things in the environment or snag items off your utility belt works well. You’ll find yourself automatically grabbing your grappling gun without much thought pretty early in the adventure. There are not a lot of puzzles to solve here (I can only really remember a few), but the game is probably best understood as a linear interactive experience. Things get progressive more creepy as the story unfolds and the horror element ramps up. This is a brief experience, but it’s impressively immersive.
I am very confident that I often look foolish playing a VR title, but I never found myself enjoying the 360 panoramic or reaching out to grasp objects in the environment as confidently as I did here. Make sure you have a wide open environment to play in. I was knocking things over, I was stepping on my dogs, and I was smiling the whole time. Few games as engaged me as thoroughly as this one did and I was a little sad when it was all over. The game does offer some Riddler trophies to encourage replayability, but I think I’ll just play through it again to enjoy the experience and keep an eye out for little environmental details I may have missed before.
THE BEST PARTS
The game is extremely immersive, beautiful, and easy to play. You’ll love being Batman and moving and meeting his allies an enemies in a perfectly rendered Gotham City.
THE WORST PARTS
This is a pretty brief experience and while there is some replay value here (30 or so Riddler trophies pop up after you win), I don’t know how much fun you’ll find in replaying this short story.
OVERALL: PLAY IT
The $20-$30 price tag is a bit steep to encourage a purchase, but you should give this title a chance. It’s definitely worth your time.