Gotham Knights isn’t set in the same universe as the Batman: Arkham games, but the title does feel like its successor in many ways. With Batman dead and Gotham City in shambles, players must pick up the pieces as Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing or Red Hood.
Players of Gotham Knights must defend the citizens of Gotham City, solve crimes left and right, and somehow overcome grief over Batman’s death, defeat the main villain, investigate the Court of Owls, and become their own knight. Gotham Knights is an absolutely entertaining game with lots of little moments to shine, but unfortunately, it’s also a game that would buckle under any level of scrutiny.
Gotham Knights’ core gameplay loop and depiction of Gotham City are its saving grace. It’s a genuinely fun game, and for many players it might be easy to overlook its many shortcomings. During the day, players will progress through the main story points within the clock tower, launch new investigations into certain villains, craft new suits and weapons, examine various challenges, and interact with other team members. At night, the player dons a hood as one of four playable characters and goes on patrol in Gotham City. Here, they must stop random crimes, find and advance certain storylines, find collectibles, and more. When players are done with crime for the night, they return to the clock tower, rinse and repeat.
works so well because it brings out the best of Gotham City. The city is beautiful, vibrant, and always alive. In some respects, Gotham City is a generic open world in which players must complete a series of activities; however, it masquerades itself as something else entirely. Players are never overwhelmed by random activity on the map, as the game paces them so well. Players will see the main story development on the map, but to complete activities such as premeditated crimes, players must investigate random crimes, interrogate enemies, and unlock them. Sometimes premeditated crimes are unlocked the same night, but most of the time, doing these smaller-scale activities builds “clues” that unlock new activities, but require the player to return to the clock tower first.
Having contacts on the map like Detective Montoya or the Overwatch unlocks further events that players can earn rewards for participating in. What happens is that the player is able to self-pace the progress of the various side activities, which is a delightful way to interact with the world when something as simple as saving a citizen from Gotham Knights’ freak faction is in its place. When building the world around. In fact, despite the repetitive activity, players never know what they’re going to walk into when dealing with routine crimes or even premeditated crimes. It could be as simple as saving a life or running away to protect a black market organ.
A wide variety of combat encounters showcase Gotham Knights gameplay at its best. It’s not quite as smooth as the Batman: Arkham’s free-flow system, but it’s a close imitator. Players are encouraged to change tactics between melee and ranged weapons, perfect their evasion abilities, manage elemental effects and Gotham Knights character-specific builds, and sometimes deal with auxiliary issues like bombs, defense points, and more. Additionally, certain enemies are only susceptible to certain tactics, which adds even more variety when dealing with those factions or multiple factions. Sometimes this puts players at a disadvantage if they’re using a hero they haven’t specified in some way, but it’s beneficial to overcome this. Gotham Knights’ combat is fun, addictive, and stylish, while its city is not only the best version of Gotham City to date, but a lesson in how to pace open-world events.
Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn’t seem to be on the same level, and a lot of it doesn’t blend as well as the gameplay. For example, its story is okay, but not great either. It feels like a car going 45 MPH all the time. There are no surprises, no big curves, and some of its plot twists are predictable. The story of Gotham Knights has no ending. The ending feels like the game has never been played at all, and many stories are very slow. The opening and first few missions are dragged on, the core story missions do hit a reasonable pace, and then the ending feels unnecessarily stuffed.
There are plenty of moments where the Bat-family’s grief is palpable, but there are also moments of relief where they can be together as a family and that’s it. Unfortunately, all of the characters end up being a minor note, and while there is character development, each tends to retread familiar territory. For example, Red Hood never forgets to mention his death, and Nightwing is always cracking a corny joke. The game obviously relies on what fans know about DC to create any emotional connection; it’s there, but it often feels forced.
Gotham Knights’ story is lackluster, but still better than Villain Case Files. The trailer for Gotham Knights confirms the game’s three secondary villains, and that’s all players will get. It’s no surprise who the player will face, and the enemies and the story aren’t even as interesting as the main storyline. They’re designed to sync up with the main story, and while some of them involve interesting backstories in quests, they end up going nowhere. The villains’ motives are unclear, the pacing is choppy and tedious, one demands a lot of attention while the others are mostly ignored. The main plot and villain substories will confuse most players, and entire characters and story threads are completely thrown off the top of their game if they try to look beyond pure novelty.
Unfortunately, these villains also highlight the flaws in Gotham Knights combat. It’s clearly designed for fighting multiple humanoid combatants, but in a 1v1 fight against an enemy with a huge health bar or a large non-humanoid, the fight becomes a lackluster grind against spongy enemies practice. The game contains only a handful of boss fights, which is probably why. They messed up some funny stuff.
Gotham Knights would be in a much better place if that was all there was to receive censorship; unfortunately, many of its features still do. Gotham Knights includes a loot system that’s more akin to a loot shooter than an RPG, and in a way, it’s easy to see how those systems can get dirty, except there’s no incentive to care about loot or crafting. Players can transmogrify their suits, which is great for a design fans don’t like, but the only way to collect loot is to participate in open-world events. Different campaigns have a better chance of getting legendary loot, but there’s no real reason to try and specialize a build when there’s nothing special to fight against.
There’s no endgame content like many loot games, and while this might be the Heroic Assault mode that Gotham Knights introduced in November, it’s not there yet. Heroic Assault is based on arena challenges, and current boss fights don’t necessarily offer better loot. They can’t even repeat, if anyone wants to.
Gotham City itself is the game’s strong point, but even the lackluster traversal gets dragged down. batcycle is functional, but not impressive. Navigating with the grappling hook feels as clumsy as a web swing from Marvel’s Spider-Man. It helps that players eventually unlock fast travel, but each character also unlocks the purely mechanical and unfun hero travel feature. From major features like these to small details like investigations, there’s a lot about the game that feels half-baked, and it’s these elements that give an otherwise solid game its name.
Gotham Knights is great fun, and an easy recommendation for anyone looking to take down criminals without thinking as a superhero. However, anyone interested in it will be disappointed by its story pacing, gameplay elements, individual features, and many other elements.
Gotham Knights launches October 21 on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. For the purposes of this review, Game Rant obtained the Xbox Series X code.