Review In Short
John says: "With a decent story and a strong technical foundation it's nice to experience Arkham City and get a feel for the atmosphere of DC comics in VR. Unfortunately, the story is very linear and the experience only lasts an hour so it's over not long after it's started and has little replay value."
Batman: Arkham VR is the first game in the Arkham series to make use of virtual reality to deliver its narrative. In essence, it’s a short, story-heavy experience that puts you in the Batsuit and gives you the opportunity to get your hands on Batman’s gadgets to solve puzzles and drive forward the plot. Oh, and if you don’t take the opportunity to stare back at yourself in the (virtual) mirror and say “I’m Batman” in a gruff voice, you’re clearly doing it wrong.
Time to suit up!
After a short introductory sequence, which serves to ease you into the VR environment, you get an enjoyable few moments of gathering your gadgets and having a play with them before attaching them to your utility belt. Available for you to grab at any time, these devices hang from your waist in the virtual world. On your right side hangs your grapple gun, a locomotion device you can point at predetermined points to get around most scenes. To your left, the one size fits all detective scanner, a device with multiple uses during your adventure. Finally, an ever lasting supply of very sharp batarangs sit a little too close too your groin for my liking.
Arkham VR takes you through a number of set scenes to tell you a short story set in the DC Universe. In each environment you are able to teleport between a number of fixed locations to interact with certain objects which will allow you to solve puzzles and overcome problems.
Overall, Batman: Arkham VR looks great and runs smoothly on a GTX 1080. The set pieces are visually appealing and fun to explore with a VR headset and it really starts to show off what you can do with VR tech. Equally, interacting with objects in the world was both intuitive and satisfying - flicking switches, pushing buttons and using your gadgets just felt good. I had some issues where I had to reach a bit further forward than I might have liked from a seated position (probably better from a sofa than a desk chair pushed 50cm away from the desk), but luckily I only managed to bash my desk a few times instead of destroying my monitor. The environments you are taken through during the story are detailed and immersive - sometimes it can be fun just poking around and seeing what’s there and you get a good sense of the atmosphere of Arkham City. It’s nice to see some DC favourites rendered in VR, including “forever the side-kick” Robin and Killer Croc.
Just a regular Saturday night with Batman and Robin
The plot itself is pretty good - it feels like a romp through a short Batman story with some puzzle solving and character interactions that feel fitting for Batman. It would be nice if you felt like you had more control over the plot with your actions as the experience is very linear, but it’s still fun to run through once. Most of the puzzles are a fairly straightforward use of your gadgets but the scenes where you use your detective scanner feel novel and interesting, even if they don’t make you think too far out of the box. Throughout the main story, you get a couple of opportunities to use your batarangs, but I could have done with a bit more of that to be honest. Throwing the batarangs brought back memories of using the Wii remote in Wii Sports and the mechanic itself was pretty fun.
After you have completed the main story there is some additional content you can work through if you fancy it. This comes in the form of Riddler Puzzles and they allow you to re-traverse the scenes looking for 30 hidden puzzles to solve. Some of the puzzles involve interacting with parts of the world in different ways and others see you throwing batarangs at targets. All in all, I didn’t feel inclined to find all of the Riddler Puzzles, but the extra content gave me an extra 30 minutes of toying with the VR environment. After that I felt that I was done.
In summary, Batman: Arkham VR is a tight but short experience which starts to show how cool some VR experiences could be. There isn’t much going for it in the way of replay-ability due to the linear nature of the plot and while its hard to recommend at full price when it only lasts an hour, it’s definitely worth picking up on a Steam sale or even at full price if you have some friends that you want to showcase your VR headset with.