Gotham Knights, the latest addition to the Batman franchise concocted in Montreal by WB Games, is an enjoyable mix of combat and police investigation triggered by the death of the Dark Knight. On the menu: dense content, dark atmosphere and rather conventional writing, despite some strokes of genius.
Because we start very strong in this third-person action RPG which hits the shelves this Friday. Batman is sadly being crushed before our eyes by a villain, Ra’s al Ghul — “Monster’s Head” in Arabic. Everything is destroyed, from the Batcave to the hero’s equipment, including Ra’s al Ghul which ends up in a morgue.
Between four choices
Batman will not reappear, we have information from the game designers since we obviously could not complete the adventure in 15 short hours of play. It will be up to his four assistants, Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood and Robin, to complete investigation.
This is where the player inserts their token. We first have the choice between the four characters, each of whom has his skills. Red Hood (Jason Todd) is a dead and then resurrected muscle man who specializes in brute force. Robin (Tim Drake), is smart and stealthy. Nightwing (Dick Grayson) is a handsome acrobat who has mastered his double fencing sticks. Finally, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) practices a series of combat sports, which makes her particularly useful in this game. villains they will have to rub shoulders with. It is possible throughout the game to change character, but the operation is not too tempting: you keep the same level, but you must reallocate all your skill points and your armament.
So we kept Batgirl for the vast majority of our 15 hours of play. activities must be stopped. It is a bit repetitive and consists of knocking out criminals to collect experience points and rewards.
You also need to unlock special abilities by discovering caches set up by Batman, clearing the skies of drones that prevent fast travel, and collecting various paid coins. Finally, there is the main narrative axis, where we must follow the successive orders to advance the investigation by meeting villains like the Penguin, Mr Freeze and Harley Quinn.
Fight or investigation
These encounters are the most interesting from a narrative standpoint, as these characters are very fleshed out and come across as funny, vicious, ironic, or repentant. This spirit is unfortunately not always found in the game, while the majority of enemies or onlookers in Gotham are on autopilot.
For the action, we alternate between two modes: combat and investigation. The fights are very focused on melee where you have to hit and dodge hits at the right time, with the ability to send projectiles by aiming precisely. These fights, let’s sum it up, are delicious and give the full measure of next-gen consoles, with impressive responsiveness and special effects and slow motion. Connoisseurs will recognize the game mechanics Spidermanbut here we have a very funny innovation: if you are not too impatient and do not wash everyone, you can question the survivor of the gang to obtain information.
The mechanics are embellished with several aids: you can ride a motorcycle following arrows drawn on the ground, the following stages are well indicated with diamonds and you can especially jump from one point to another by identifying points of anchoring and throwing a cable.
All these fights lead to a point: the Belfry where the four knights meet after their nights of patrols. The exchanges between them are friendly, but cannot be described as transcendent. It’s all the more surprising that dialogues with villains like the Penguin and Harley Quinn had made our mouths water. But dogs don’t make cats: superhero adventures are not auteur films, rarely anyway. And the investigation is a classic case of muddle where villains, gangs, old friends and new heroes clash. Complexity is not always synonymous with depth.
But there is enough to spend a few dozen hours of fun, no doubt.
Released: October 21
On PS5 and Xbox Series
Tried on a copy provided by WB Games, on PS5
Rating: 8 out of 10