If you've been in someone else's shadow for years, it can be quite difficult when the spotlight is suddenly on you. At Gotham Knights, it's not just the four new Guardians of Gotham struggling with their new status.

It’s almost impossible not to compare Gotham Knights to the Arkham games. While the Arkham trilogy was primarily developed by sister studio Rocksteady Studios, WB Games Montréal developed the prequel Arkham Origins. This studio is also inextricably linked to these legendary superhero games. However, Gotham Knights is not a continuation of the ‘Arkhamverse’, but offers its own, unique story. Without Batman.

At least: the Caped Crusader does of course play a role in Gotham Knights. At the beginning of the game, Bats is killed and now it is up to his four protégés to continue his work. Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin and Red Hood team up on a case involving the world’s greatest detective at the time. They set up headquarters in the Belfry, an old clock tower, and fight crime in Gotham from here every night. They track down the Court of Owls, a secret society that has been pulling the strings behind the scenes of Gotham for centuries.

That sounds like the breeding ground for an interesting plot with some other enemies than the standard Joker or Two-Face, but Gotham Knights never really knows how to surprise. The game obediently follows the standard pattern of a superhero story, so that despite a handful of memorable moments you see the most important revelations coming from afar. That in itself is not a disaster, because the story mainly offers a reason to hit a lot of enemies on the nose.

After all, that’s what you do most: smash enemies into each other. The combat system in Gotham Knights is very simple and has no block or counter mechanisms. It’s all about attacking and dodging and that feels a bit rudimentary. The much-discussed frame rate of 30 fps is not the reason for this; after all, the Arkham games played as smooth as an eel in a bucket of WD-40 even on the PlayStation 3. Without counters, everything just flows a little less smoothly.

As a result, a certain grind quickly creeps into the fights. Many enemies look alike and you can defeat them with the same tactics. For variety, you can select a different superhero for each mission, but don’t expect to suddenly play a completely different game after changing the night watch. The different fighting styles are mainly cosmetic; in the end they all have about the same attacks. For example, where Red Hood shoots with his (non-lethal) pistols, Batgirl throws a Batarang.

The biggest challenge is created by the level system. Enemies later in the game still look exactly the same, but because of their higher level, it simply takes longer before they go down.

It’s especially frustrating that the level system puts so much pressure on the game’s progress. Certain side missions play out nicely in their own story arc with their own villain, but you have to play them in an almost completely fixed order in between. Otherwise, you’ll either be too weak for the main story or way too strong for the side mission if you pick it up later.

Along with this level system hangs an  loot and craft system. You unlock new packs and weapons all the time, and the level system practically forces you to blindly choose your strongest gear. You can craft  something yourself with the countless raw materials you collect.

Fortunately, your four heroes level at the same time, so you don’t have to train them one by one. The main and side missions together also give you enough XP to continue, so you don’t have to grind in the city.

Crimes take place in various places in the city, such as robberies, hostage-taking, or organ trafficking. The four vigilantes can solve those crimes by taking out everyone. Every now and then you can also chase the bat moped through the streets of Gotham.

The city is very atmospheric, especially if you take the time to take it in. When the clouds break open and the silver moonlight in the wet streets merges with the red and purple neon of nightclubs and billboards, ray tracing, volumetric lighting and the 4K resolution come together in harmony.

Even when the game comes out positively, there always seems to be a poorly thought-out development choice. In a number of missions, the game surprises by tailoring dialogues or even pieces of gameplay to the hero (in) you control at that moment. Then you want to be able to replay such a mission as a different hero, but that is not an option. The game encourages you to switch, but then gives each hero his or her own story.

Gotham Knights certainly also has highlights, but much more often plays it safe and unfortunately monotonous. The co-op mode cannot change that either. There are no special attacks for two players; it remains the same monotonous fighting game, but with two superheroes on screen.

Gotham Knights is nu verkrijgbaar voor PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X en S, en pc. For this review the game has been played on a PlayStation 5.



+ Beautiful and atmospheric  city.
+ Satisfying combat system.
+ ,

– Level system is way too decisive