Gotham Knights is an open-world action RPG from developer Warner Bros. Games Montréal & publisher Warner Bros. Much like the Arkham series we see these caped crusaders fighting crime across Gotham while contending with supervillains, criminals and police alike. Based on DC’s Batman: Gotham Knights comic series it is a fresh take on a Batman video game with characters we know and love or love to hate.
There is some controversy around the game with Batgirl’s in-game bio. In this Gotham, The Killing Joke is canon including Barbara Gordon being paralysed and becoming Oracle. The in-game bio states she overcame this with hard work which has offended the non-able-bodied community. The news that Gotham Knights wouldn’t be released on PS4 and Xbox One will be upsetting for gamers who haven’t been able to move to the current-gen or a powerful enough PC yet, but being locked to 30 FPS has been a bitter pill to swallow when out on more powerful systems.
Gotham Knights is available now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC.
Could Gotham Knights be the superhero game we deserve and need?
As a fan of DC, the Batman franchise especially, I was very excited to play Gotham Knights and it didn’t disappoint. The four protagonists front and centre made for a fresh approach to the dark knight himself.
I hope you enjoy this review and if so check out my previous one on The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow
Gotham Knights occurs following the tragic death of Batman after a gruelling battle with Ra’s al Ghul. Batman ends the fight on his terms taking out Ra’s and the Batcave with him. Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood and Robin step up to protect Gotham from falling into chaos. Before his passing, Batman made sure our four protagonists had access to his files including the last case he was working on. It leads them to uncover a conspiracy involving the Court of Owls, a secret society shaping Gotham from behind the scenes. To honour Batman’s final case and stop this shady group, this becomes the main quest for the heroes and makes up the main campaign of the game.
Criminals are brazen without Batman to stop them and the supervillains are starting to realise he is gone for good. And without Jim Gordon as an ally in the GCPD, the police are also out to stop our four heroes. Luckily there are loyal allies such as Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox to provide guidance and new gadgets. I found Gotham Knights did a really good job of making Batman’s absence palpable. From character flashbacks, to the network he had set up from ordinary citizens, to uneasy alliances with figures such as the Penguin.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons with games such as Arkham Knight and 2018’s Spider-Man but Gotham Knights does add its own flavour to the mix. The ability to easily swap between Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood & Robin with each character feeling distinct and unique. The differences from dialogue in cut scenes, to fighting styles and special abilities helped some when I found the game becoming repetitive. An especially poignant scene was a side quest taking Batgirl to the Jim Gordon memorial and seeing his statue. The plot wasn’t as engaging as the Arkham series but the solid character portrayals, especially the four main protagonists kept the game moving.
A lot of the game, of course, involves travelling across Gotham stopping criminals where stealth is just as valid as fighting through encounters. Whilst going around by rooftop or Batcycle is great, movement on foot was often clunky and awkward. A big feather in the game’s cowl is the online co-op proving two bats are better than one. It is a fantastic mechanic to bring in and makes reducing crime in Gotham twice as fun. Being able to work together or to divide and conquer across Gotham untethered helps make those repetitive tasks feel less so.
I found that the combat of Gotham Knights has its pros and cons. The four main characters having their own style was great, especially as you upgrade to further specialise and while it was fun fighting the various supervillain factions, I felt the game relied too much on combat. Most quests consist of stopping X number of criminals in different factions to progress.
Graphics & Audio
I am basing my review of Gotham Knights on the PS5 which I felt overall ran smoothly. There was the occasional visual glitch but for me, it was barely noticeable. The loading times did feel a little slow, but showed tips to keep you occupied. I know there the controversy about the game being locked to 30 FPS but I found the game looked great. Both gameplay and cut scenes felt realistic in depicting our heroes and Gotham dealing with Batman’s absence. I could tell the cityscape and night sky was a focus with how stunning they looked. And with most of your nights spent on rooftops, it made for a brilliant-looking Gotham.
The soundtrack and score, as well as the sound design, were all excellent and are a big part of why I enjoyed Gotham Knights. I don’t have much experience with the four main heroes from the comics but the voice acting and dialogue painted a picture of their stories up until this point. The conversations with each other and significant NPCs felt very engaging, doing well in bringing the characters to life. The environmental sounds are also a highlight for me, from equipment to the sounds of the city itself. While zipping around Gotham, the sound design helps bring the city to life and feel immersive.
Gotham Knights offers a lot of content whether you follow the main story or defeat the city’s seemingly endless criminals. With the main campaign taking approximately 10-12 hours and the side quests several more. That of course is only on single-player, online co-op offering potentially many more. For the completionists out there, 100%-ing the game will keep you busy. The 49 trophies/achievements and numerous collectables will keep you occupied. And of course, both solo and co-op simply explore Gotham to appreciate the references around the city.
I had a great time playing Gotham Knights and yes it has its issues but overall it’s a solid addition to the superhero genre. The story is a bit by the numbers and relied a lot on combat but the character portrayal and heart of the game shown more than made for that in my opinion. Any limits to the graphics didn’t diminish my enjoyment of how it all looked and sounded. Travelling around Gotham was satisfying and immersive, especially with the comic book references and lore all around the city. I am excited to play more and am looking forward to what Warner Bros. Games Montréal may have in store for the DC video game universe.
I am pleased to give Gotham Knights the Thumb Culture Gold Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received to write this review.