In 2009 an unknown (but ambitious) British gaming studio called Rocksteady released a game about our favorite Caped Crusader called Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Little did we know then that six years and three more games (although (Batman: Arkham Origins was developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal) later, we would look upon the Batman: Arkham series as one of the most well-received and commercially successful gaming franchises of all time. However, why exactly were these games so immensely popular with both critics and fans? Here is my take on this question, while looking at how exactly the Batman: Arkham series has revolutionized superhero and action games:
1. The presence of a flawless fighting system
Batman: Arkham Asylum managed to achieve something that about a hundred Spider-Man games could not; having a simple, yet brutally effective fighting system which is a joy for the eye (and the hands).
Furthermore, the fighting system was tweaked a bit in subsequent titles of the series by adding new combos, which made it even better, especially, by adding the dual play option in [Batman: Arkham Knight](tag:2683936), which was a revelation.
2. Beautiful presentation and engaging storytelling
It does not matter if we are talking about Arkham Asulym or Gotham itself, in these series we were able to freely roam around and engage with many side missions if we wanted to.
In addition, the dark and grim atmosphere of both the asylum and the city were captured perfectly. However, what is even more impressive is that the atmosphere of the games was just phenomenal. Beautiful cutscenes, accompanied with nice theme music, made playing an entertaining yet suspenseful experience. Last but not least, storylines which were clearly over the top, such as the Titan Joker development in Batman: Arkham Asulym, were presented in a spectacular fashion.
3. A unique combination between fighting, puzzles, detective work and stealth
Although, fighting sequences are the heart of every action game, if the only thing that we have to do is face an endless wave of thugs and some boss fights, we are likely to get bored.
Rocksteady must have followed the same mantra when developing the Batman: Arkham series because the gameplay of all of the titles is so diverse. Whether we are talking about side missions, the Riddler's challenges, using Detective Vision, sneaking behind opponents' backs or simply looking for Easter eggs, the Batman: Arkham franchise has it all. Besides, by having a gameplay that has a great deal of variety, these games have set a new benchmark in the industry for both superhero and action games.
4. Exceptional voice acting
It is fair to say that the Batman: Arkham franchise features some of the most cinematically sounding games that have ever been released.
A huge part of that is the high-quality voice acting. Over the course of the four games, everyone from Kevin Conroy & Roger Craig Smith (Batman), Mark Hamill & Troy Baker (The Joker), to Arleen Sorkin & Tara Strong (Harley Quinn), Nolan North (The Penguin) and many others, did an absolutely fantastic job, which added to the marvelous gaming experience.
5. Great use of Easter eggs
Nowadays, an "Easter egg" is a largely overused term which denotes a hidden (or not so hidden) item in visual media. The Batman: Arkham franchise is full of Easter eggs, ranging from "Paging Dr. Clooney" and Harley Quinn being pregnant to the rejected assassins in Batman: Arkham Origins (Cheshire, David Cain and Black Spider) and the many Superman references in Batman: Arkham Knight, just to name a few. What made them great was that they were subtle, yet not too hard to find.
So, there you have it folks! What made you fall in love with the Batman: Arkham games?