Gotham Knights is a game set following Batman’s ‘death’, in which you play as his protégées—Robin, Batgirl, Red Hood and Nightwing—and bosh various thugs. It’s not related to the Arkham games, apparently, but a new gameplay trailer showcasing Nightwing and Red Hood shows that it is very similar in style indeed: except, it somehow doesn’t look as good.
The walkthrough shows the two former Robins in a few different encounters, and a look at co-op battles. It’s instantly clear that this has all the animations in the world but seems to completely lack the weight of Arkham’s combat system. There, Batman felt like a ballerina who hit like a gorilla. Here, Nightwing in particular seems to spend half his time doing pointless little flips and slides rather than hitting anything. In concert with the ‘homing’ animations—which Arkham also had to be fair—it makes combat look rather floaty and unsatisfying.
Red Hood’s not much better either. I mean, if you want to play a melee-focused game with a character using pistols then rock on—but Jason Todd is no Dante. There are sequences here where he’s just pumping bullets into enemies that are standing there and taking it and, while he doesn’t quite have Nightwing’s repertoire of pointless acrobatics, the way he moves between enemies looks pretty janky.
Look I don’t want to be mean. I love Batman stuff and the Arkham games in particular, the setup for this sounds great, but… the bar is now set pretty high for Batman videogames. And there’s something not right here.
Don’t even get me started on Red Hood’s traversal method: he double-jumps across the city using ‘soul energy’. This is only my two cents but the Batman universe, as absurd as it is, should feel a lot more grounded than the superhero worlds where people are going around shooting lasers out of their behinds. Why soul-jumping wasn’t laughed out of the first meeting it was raised in, we will never know.
This game looks rough, and I’m not even going to pick on the odd glitchy elements, what looks like a shoehorned-in crafting system, or the distracting glowy bits that now drop out of KO-ed enemies. There’s a mid-boss fight here with Red Hood and some Court of Owls enforcer that, honestly, looks worse than anything I’ve ever seen in the Arkham games—which let us remember began with Asylum in 2009 and ended with Knight in 2015.
The trailer comes with the news that Gotham Knights is now available for pre-order, and of course there’s a ludicrous $299.99 deluxe edition with delights including a pin badge, statues and map of the city. But this frankly looks like a game that could use a bit longer in the oven, not something you should be looking to buy in advance. Gotham Knights was first delayed in March 2021 to its current date, so it’s unlikely to get another. Going by this footage it certainly won’t be troubling Elden Ring in the end-of-year awards.