- Batman: Arkham series revolutionized the superhero genre. Arkham Asylum started a legacy that went to perfection in Arkham City and Arkham Knight.
- Batman: Arkham Origins has some flaws, but is overall a great adventure with epic boss fights and a captivating story from Batman’s younger days.
- With the Arkham series returning once again for the Switch this time, Arkham Origins is again sidelined and I believe the game deserves a revival just as much.
The Batman: Arkham series is a cornerstone of superhero games and one of the best adaptations featuring the Caped Crusader. The franchise comprises Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, Arkham Origins, and Batman: Arkham Knight, which is the most recent mainline entry. Arkham Knight was a visual marvel; the game’s trailer was enough to blow everyone away and take the hype through the roof.
Arkham Asylum started it all, Arkham City is where the concept peaked, and Arkham Knight provided an excellent conclusion to the saga. What about Batman: Arkham Origins, then? Regrettably, Arkham Origins always seems to be unfairly sidelined, despite being a solid entry. The game does contain some problems, but they’re not big enough to justify this treatment.
Arkham Series Set An Enormous Standard
Batman’s enormous popularity is a well-known fact at this point. And with the popularity came the video game adaptations of the character. The Dark Knight has been featured in a multitude of genres with side-scrollers, beat ’em ups, platformers, and third-person action-adventures as a few examples. The old era of Batman games contains some pretty solid titles like Batman: Vengeance and Rise of Sin Tzu.
However, it all changed with the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady brought such a revolutionary take to the character that it quickly became the series’ staple and even inspired many other games. Arkham Asylum gave you control of the Caped Crusader in a third-person action game with both combat and stealth focus. The same approach is present in Batman: Arkham Origins but with a change of developer.
The game featured magnificent area design, environments, story themes, enemies, and mechanics. The entire game takes place on Arkham Island, housing the state-of-the-art prison/rehabilitation facility – the home to Gotham’s most notorious criminals. As Batman brings in the Joker, he has no idea he’s walking right into a trap when Joker grasps control of the facility and employs other villains in his grand plan.
It was the first time you could control Batman with this much freedom and an accurate depiction of the character. Take out all adversaries with a combination of Batman’s mighty fists and his versatile gadgets, traverse the complex facilities through vents and grates, and stick to the shadows and instill fear into your foes as you silently pick them off one by one.
Arkham Asylum holds legendary status as the one that began the beloved formula and made Arkham City possible. It’s the sequel where the series became a true masterpiece. Arkham City was an enormous improvement over everything introduced in the prequel. Much more fluid and refined combat, improved stealth sections and a wide range of new moves, a highly memorable story, and a bigger more engaging world to discover.
After Joker’s actions resulted in the closure of the Asylum, a portion of Gotham was isolated and locked behind gigantic walls, serving as a huge prison for all the vile criminals and dubbed Arkham City. This is the stage for the game as Bruce Wayne is kidnapped and thrown in by the new warden Hugo Strange. Knowing Batman’s identity and a nefarious plan to fulfill, Hugo sets out to accomplish it after supposedly imprisoning The Dark Knight.
The story has considerable twists to keep you engaged right until the end. Alongside come enhanced gameplay mechanics. With a larger world to traverse, gliding mechanics incorporated more variety and a new upgrade. Combat is much more fluid now as you can seamlessly move to distant enemies with a lot more accuracy. Similarly, stealth sections saw a lot of refinement. I consider Arkham City the best Batman game we’ve had so far.
Batman: Arkham Origins was kind of an odd one, but a great game nonetheless. It was followed by Batman: Arkham Knight. I fondly remember watching the trailer for Arkham Knight. The insane visuals and Batmobile playability left me in awe. It’s been eight years since the game was released, and in terms of visual quality, it puts many later games to shame.
watched some of the gotham knights gameplay. totally unrelated, isn't it crazy how arkham knight looks for a seven year old game? pic.twitter.com/YGaDLQ4uRx
— BAILEY (@loverboymedia) May 10, 2022
Aside from the magnificent graphics, the game was all-around great too. It did have some problems like a comparatively weak story and the over-usage of tedious Batmobile encounters. Sadly, the epic duel with Deathstroke from Arkham Origins was replaced with a tank battle here. However, it’s no doubt the game refined the exploration, combat, and stealth encounters to the best in the entire series.
Batman: Arkham Origins Was Overshadowed By Its Predecessors
After Rocksteady completed Batman: Arkham City, WB pursued the release of the next entry. It was handled by WB Games Montreal. This game was Batman: Arkham Origins, which takes us back to when Bruce Wayne first took on the mantle of the Caped Crusader. Although a solid game, it had some problems primarily because it lacked Rocksteady’s polish and refinement. Moreover, Mark Hamil and Kevin Conroy’s absence was truly felt.
The game’s story was one of its strong points. It’s not exactly an origin story, but it splendidly depicts Batman in his early years, lacking a calm and composed nature. Here, the inexperienced Bruce Wayne is a hothead with a lot of strength and lets his fists do all the talking. He’s also determined to set things straight all by himself, which puts him at odds with the wise Alfred and also teaches him a valuable lesson he forever remembers.
The new vigilante is a force to be reckoned with and is soon noticed by the hotshots of Gotham’s criminal underbelly. This results in a $50 million bounty on his head and thus, Batman becomes the target of 8 deadly assassins. The supposed mastermind Blackmask turns out to be someone else, someone we’re all familiar with – The Joker.
Batman: Arkham Origins has an excellent depiction of Joker’s character. We see how the iconic villain becomes a part of Batman’s life, a deep dive into his mental state and his ideology, and the beginning of the dynamic between the two. Both Batman and Joker see each other as their reflection, an entity to be surpassed, and the game closes in on an epic finale when Joker puts in everything to test the fledgling Dark Knight.
In addition to the story, the game features exciting boss fights. a myriad of different assassins on Batman’s tail means a variety of boss battles that include straight-up cinematic duels like Deathstroke, overcoming impossible odds against Bane and Copperhead, and stealth encounters against Deadshot. The boss fights to serve as a test to determine Batman’s future as Gotham’s protector.
In terms of gameplay mechanics, it’s more of the same Arkham formula we’ve come to admire. Overall, the game is truly a fun adventure every Batman fan should dive into. I’ve gone on about the game’s merits, but I do admit it has certain critical flaws. Adopting the same formula as its predecessors mean you can’t shake off the feeling that it all seems so familiar and you’ve done it before.
Lacking refinement and originality in the execution, it all felt like something Arkham City had already done, from the similarly designed setting to the core gameplay. The level design also suffered from some pacing issues, as the game quickly moves from encounter to encounter at an unsteady pace which disturbs the thrill of exploration. Speaking of exploration, that annoying lengthy bridge puts me off every time.
Some other problems include an overall lack of meaningful easter eggs that Rocksteady cleverly hid in its games. Moreover, the story inconsistency the game creates with some of its gadgets. All of the gadgets that Batman acquires in those later stories are somehow present here. In addition, we have the all-powerful Shock Gloves and Deathstroke’s claw, which makes you wonder why were they abandoned if they’re so good.
Similarly, the combat and stealth encounters also felt a bit weak and simply too similar to what we already know with no changes. I admit these problems do exist and stick out when playing, but Batman: Arkham Origins is not as bad as it’s made out to be. After Arkham City, It had severe competition and high hopes to live up to which it couldn’t manage, but it is an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
Arkham Origins Deserves Better
Because of these problems and performance issues at launch, the game suffered a weaker reception than its predecessors and thus gets unfairly sidelined whenever the series makes an appearance. The first case was Batman: Return to Arkham. Arkham Asylum and Arkham City were remastered and released for modern consoles, and later Arkham Knight was added to create a full collection but Arkham Origins was simply left out.
Next is the quite recent example from Nintendo Direct. Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight were revealed to be coming to Nintendo Switch, considering it was the appropriate time as Batman: Arkham Knight celebrated its 8th anniversary. As happy as I am to see one of my favorites returning for a wider audience, I believe they did Arkham Origins dirty.
Experience Rocksteady's critically acclaimed Arkham Trilogy, including all DLC, in one complete package when Batman: Arkham Trilogy releases exclusively for #NintendoSwitch in fall 2023! pic.twitter.com/YLE9qL4ztl
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) June 21, 2023
Out of all the titles, Arkham Origins would benefit the most from increased exposure. After the disappointing Gotham Knights and the upcoming Suicide Squad game a hated live-action, the demand for the beautiful Arkham series is higher than ever. Among them, Arkham Knight is still fresh in people’s minds and Asylum and City are highly popular. Bringing Arkham Origins to light will give something new to the fans that missed it.
The performance issues can be fixed when the game is remastered. Although the other problems like pacing and refinement are unavoidable, they’re not the deciding factor to outright label the game bad. A remaster for modern consoles will bring crisp visuals and an interesting story from Batman’s early years alongside proper duels that fans are sure to appreciate.
It’s also the perfect time to bring the game as a Switch port, considering the series is currently in the spotlight. With the hype still fresh among Switch users, Arkham Origins is sure to perform well. Whether it be a port or a remaster, I’ll be happy as long as the game receives much-needed recognition. I hope one day Batman: Arkham Origins will be recognized as a proper part of the Arkham series and not neglected.
Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡
How could we improve this post? Please Help us. ✍