Back in the late 2000s, the idea of a solid Batman game was a pipe dream. Until then, the closest that players had gotten towards really feeling like a proper dark knight was with a 2005 tie-in to the Batman Begins movie that featured Christian Bale’s growly voice and face punching the fear out of his enemies. Not a bad game at the time, but clearly movie fodder material before the industry shifted its efforts towards quick mobile games.
And then in 2008, something magical happened. Rocksteady released a Batman game that was ticked all the right boxes and then some. A dark and atmospheric environment that was just as much of a character as the Batman was? Check. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their iconic voice acting roles as THE Batman and Joker? Check and double check mother-lover. A combination of brains and brawn as Batman fought and stalked his prey across Arkham Asylum? You better believe it!
Rocksteady released a sequel in 2011, that expanded their Arkhamverse with Arkham City. For many fans, it’s a tale of two games: Some preferred the tighter and more focused labyrinth of Arkham Asylum over the bigger distractions of Arkham City that went for broke with the sandbox genre, while others cherish the more polished combat and a third act shocker from the sequel over the disappointing finale of the original game.
Thing is, they’re both good games. Damn good games that set a benchmark which the gaming industry copied for years to come. In the early 2010s, just about every action game had players pressing Y or Triangle to duck an attack, that’s just how much of an impact the Arkham series had on developers. It’s Batman with a slick new coat of paint and a ton of content added to the mix.