Spend 2.5 hours through three tables of Gotham Knights, as we did at the end of September in the studios of WB Montreal, it is first of all to expose oneself to a serious sore wrist as the fights are gripping. But it also means discovering enjoyable game mechanics in a gloomy atmosphere, where you alternate between puzzles, hard-hitting dialogues and ruthless confrontations. That’s good, it’s the kind we love and which is becoming rare. It promises.
The starting point of Gotham Knights, and that’s not a spoiler, it’s that Batman is dead, in circumstances that our session at WB studios didn’t reveal. Criminals have taken over Gotham City, fought or aided by police officers who are hardly allies in the game. now responsible for protecting the city: Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood and Robin. Everyone has their strengths. We tried three. Batgirl is determined and her blows are lightning, Nightwing is an acrobat mastering her double fencing sticks and Robin is an expert in stealth.
The four companions meet at regular intervals in their secret base where they train, tease each other and learn about the new missions available. Each time, we have the choice to go out in the city with one of the heroes. The mission often includes a puzzle to solve – such as a code number to open a hidden door – before having to rub shoulders with a few bad guys to advance.
The fights here are above all a matter of agility and edged weapons, supported by electric or explosive projectives. The more we advance, the more our character has a panoply of effective movements, with in particular a gauge of “momentum” which fills up during the fights and which allows us to strike decisive blows. The rendering inevitably brings to mind the last two Spiderman developed by Insomniac Games, but much darker. We even have tools that allow, by throwing grappling hooks, to fly over the action like Spider-Man does with his web.
We only met one known super-villain in this session, Harley Quinn, superb in this role of crazy criminal who sucks in helium to give herself an impossible voice. We fought her in co-op with a WB Games employee, as she was continually aided by waves of sidekicks. The dialogues with them are tasty, far from the text written on autopilot to which some action-adventure games have accustomed us, with a side trash completely assumed.
As for the graphics, it is simply magnificent. We are most often in the dark, in Gothic buildings or ultramodern rooms with totally delusional-looking villains who give you no quarter. We rub shoulders with giants behind their shields, with some kind of hilarious punks and, as a mini-boss at a certain point, with a gigantic prisoner who is not funny at all.
This taste seemed quite promising to us, of the high caliber, no doubt, which should receive its share of trophies. The only question that obviously could not be resolved in such a short time is that of the quality of the script. Where does it lead? The risk is there that with four characters who can frolic in an open world of secondary missions, we scatter without a strong central story emerging. Reassuringly, we specify at WB that despite some differences in dialogue depending on the hero chosen, the narrative arc is substantially the same. We will have the heart net in the week of October 21.