Gotham Knights Review: The Bat-Shoe Still Remains Too Big To Fill

The Bat-Family has arrived, a little rough around the edges, though.

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For the last 9 years, WB Games Montreal’s sole focus has been Gotham Knights. The studio, after having worked on the highly under-appreciated Arkham Origins, chose to work on a relatively new IP, ditching the Arkhamverse and Batman to tell the story of the larger Bat-Family instead. Gotham Knights is a new co-op/single-player action-adventure game that lets the player play as any of the 4 members of the Bat Family – Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, or my personal favourite – Red Hood.

Comparisons to WB Game Montreal‘s Arkham Origins and Rocksteady’s Batman Arkhamverse games began much earlier than even the first key art was revealed. Even though the game does borrow ideas from those games, Gotham Knights does manage to stand on its own two feet. It ditches the much-beloved FreeFlow combat style and opts for a more RPG-centric sort of progression and even combat.

The core pull of the game has to come down to its multiplayer/co-op elements but even if you choose to brave the streets of Gotham all by yourself – you’re still in for a pretty fun ride. While it doesn’t manage to reach the same level of groundbreaking highs as the Batman Arkhamverse game, Gotham Knights is still a pretty good outing for WB Games Montreal.

Gotham Knights: Batman is Dead…in 30 Frames Per Second

Gotham Knights

The game starts off with an explosive opening that hammers home the point that Bruce Wayne/Batman is, for real, dead. The opening leaves you itching to finally get to some gameplay, and when it eventually does, you’re immediately hit with some mildly inconvenient realities of the game. As soon as you’re on the stick, the game feels a tad bit clunkier than the usual PS5/Xbox Series X/S affair as it doesn’t have that 60 FPS smoothness you’ve come to expect.

It came out prior to launch that Gotham Knights will, in fact, hit only 30 FPS on current-gen consoles, which is a little bit of a bummer.  Not just because gamers tend to obsess over stats and numbers but simply because, for many, Gotham Knights was going to be one of those games that helps justify a massive Rs 50,000 purchase. While I personally wouldn’t care less whether I was running 30 frames per second slower than usual – Gotham Knights running at this framerate immediately felt awkward.

Gotham Knights

The movement, traversal, and even combat felt sluggish and slow in comparison to some of the best action games you can play on your PS5 or Xbox Series X. The result is a game that tends to feel rougher around the edges than it really is. You’ll get no argument from me that Gotham Knights is positively gorgeous and very shiny but I still wouldn’t put it above a game like Horizon Forbidden West or even the last-gen The Last of Us Part II.

The argument could be made that Gotham Knights has a lot more going in its world and there are plenty of mechanics, characters, and multiplayer it needs to support. While all of that is still true, here, the stuttery nature of the combat and traversal makes Gotham Knights feel more clunky than it needs to. All of that could be fixed with a post-launch patch, and it remains to be seen if the devs can bring the game up to 60 FPS while managing to maintain the cohesive nature of the Multiplayer.

Gotham Knights Gameplay is Fun, in Parts

Knights Review

While performance might be a big thorn in a lot of players’ shoes, a majority of players will likely forgive the game for its lacklustre performance if its gameplay manages to hold up – so does it? For the most part, yes.

The game puts players squarely in control of the entire Bat-Family and they can choose to play the game solo or with other players through 2-player co-op. I personally cannot attest to the quality of co-op as I couldn’t find a single match, and even when I did, the host would simply not respond or refuse to leave the base of operations. So, I managed to beat the game all by my lonesome, which seemed a bit anti-climatic as characters would regularly exclaim how they were able to accomplish so much as a unit – but that is not true, Red Hood did it all by himself (at least in my game).

The basic flow of the game has you investigating each “Case File”, which is the larger mission at hand. Each Case file typically has 3-4 parts that will give players various tasks to complete. These activities include interrogating criminals on the street or completing a scripted mission. Through this, players will earn “Salvage” that they can then use to Craft all sorts of Suits and weapons. The game has the appearance of an RPG game, but make no mistake, this is a strictly, largely-linear game with no choice-based mechanics or freedom of approach.

One of my favourite aspects of the game is its brevity. The game has a point and it makes it less than 15 hours. If you blitz through the campaign without engaging in many side activities, it will take you about 10-12 hours to see the final credits. Not completing side quests will leave you at a disadvantage as you need to do them to level up and get better items – lest you want to take on higher-level enemies in nothing but your stock suit.

Speaking of taking on enemies, the combat isn’t too shabby either. Admittedly, it is a tad bit slower than the Arkham games, but it does have a way of growing on you. The combat is on full display right out of the gate as you engage in nightly patrols, which is a mighty fun touch. Every night, you can patrol the streets of Gotham, stop crime from taking place or gather clues to stop bigger crimes, which are labelled “Premeditated Crimes”. This creates a pretty cool gameplay loop where you try and score the Perfect Night, wherein, you stop all crime in the city for one night.

Knights Review
I hate this thing.

While the combat eventually grew on me as I forgave its clunky nature and gave into its various sub-mechanics – I cannot say the same for the traversal. While the Arkham Games allowed Batman to glide through the city menacingly and gracefully – the Knights are stuck with grappling from roof to roof and driving the Bat-Cycle.

The Bat-Cycle is a bike, or say they say. In terms of feel, the Bat-Cycle feels like a paper-mache toy that has an engine stuck to it. This goes for the movement controls in the game as well. Characters do not seem to have enough weight to them and the Bat-Cycle feels infinitely less powerful because of it. The Bat Cycle is no Batmobile from Arkham Knight, which is probably a good thing in some ways. The traversal was my least favourite part of the game, even when I gained new abilities to make it easier. Patroling the streets of Gotham shouldn’t be this drab.

The Adventures of the Bat-Family are Very Cookie-Cutter

One of the strongest points of Gotham Knights’ story is that it doesn’t do much hand-holding and expects players to be up to speed with its cast of characters. The game spends zero time explaining who Dick Grayson is or why Jason Todd has a massive scar on his head and carries guns, unlike Batman. These are things it expects you to know already so it can throw you headfirst into its own story.

As was clear from the early trailers, Batman is dead and Gotham is now in the hands of Bruce’s proteges, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Barbara Gordon. One of the best decisions made by the team in regard to the story and its presentation is that it encourages multiple playthroughs. In my time with the game, I chose to mostly play as Red Hood/Jason Todd, and because of it, my cutscenes were very different from someone else who might have played Barbara Gordon/Batgirl.

Knights Review

Each character brings their own personality to the game and even the crowd will react differently to each character. This really incentivises multiple playthroughs as you might experience the story completely differently if you were playing as Robin and not Red Hood. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect and found it very cool, the story itself is not very exciting.

It doesn’t take a Batman fanatic to know exactly how the plot is going to play out from the first 3 cutscenes and even though there were a couple of memorable moments in there, there was very little that had me on the edge of my seat. This is a real shame since WB Games Montreal were able to deliver what is possibly my favourite story in the Arkhamverse in Batman: Arkham Origins. The saving grace, however, comes through small cutscenes in the game that can be triggered manually which fleshes out each character’s motivations and relationship with the rest of the Bat-Family.

Final Word: Gotham Knights

PlayStation Gotham Knights

Gotham Knights, despite its rather long development cycle, feels like a game that could have used some more time in the oven. While I didn’t encounter any major game-breaking glitches or bugs during my time in the game – the traversal and combat still leave a lot to be desired. My hope is that WB Games Montreal can put out a patch to introduce Performance Mode in the future along with some quality, post-launch content.

The studio has already announced a 4-player standalone multiplayer mode separate from the campaign but I still think the game could use more in terms of DLC. Gotham Knights feel like a good platform for WB Games Montreal to build on by introducing new Cases, and mechanics, touching up traversal and fixing the Bat-Cycle.

Even though I think Gotham Knights on console is a fun time on a console, for those who value their 60 FPS experience, you’d be much better off playing on a PC. Most of my complaints about the game stem from its clunky feel, which stems from the 30 FPS cap.WB Games Montreal have a decent game at hand, but it certainly needs a bit more work to be considered in the same breath as the Arkhamverse.

Review copy provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and reviewed on a PlayStation 5. 

Gotham Knights

Rs 4,399
6.6

Gameplay

8.5/10

Story

6.0/10

Performance

5.0/10

Graphics/Art Style

7.5/10

Multiplayer/Co-Op

5.0/10

Value for Money

7.5/10

What Is Good?

  • Good combat and progression
  • Interesting character dynamic
  • Very Replayable
  • Good Pacing and Length

What Is Bad?

  • Clunky performance
  • Cumbersome Traversal