Let me be upfront about GOTHAM KNIGHTS: this is not a great game. The primary issue isn’t its lackluster visual design of the major characters, which some have generously stated as looking like a generic mobile free-to-play game. Nor is it due to Gotham feeling oddly empty for a metropolis. (That said, given the fact that Gotham seems to be a villain paradise, why would one choose to live there as a civilian?) It’s simply that the game is trying to do too much, and manages to falter at almost every step. I feel for the devs because this is very clearly an extremely expensive game that took a lot of time and effort and money to make, but it never quite manages the effortless flow of the Rocksteady Batman games.
It doesn’t help that the game commits multiple cardinal sins such as bullet-sponges, bosses with fake-out health meters, cheap insta-deaths, and is brazen enough to recreate a spiritual successor level to one of the worst Batman levels of all time: the Batmobile levels of BATMAN RETURNS. (Ironically, this is definitely one of the most enjoyable Batmobiles of any Batman game I’ve played, but the one Batmobile level goes on for way too long.)
To be reductive, GOTHAM KNIGHTS feels like it’s cribbing from the recent ASSASSIN’S CREED games: it features a new leveling system, including superficial crafting of armor and weapons, on top of what was already a byzantine litany of combos and combat approaches. Every minute you get some new alert or notification or useless mod or unlockable. It’s not just that it’s overwhelming, but that very little of it actually matters.
Additionally, goddamn, some of the boss fights are the roughest — and I played the game on easy mode because life is too short. I hard-quit during both the Mr. Freeze and Clayface fights, and the end of the game — while abiding by the rule of threes — felt like a tad too much.
However! It is a very playable game with a gripping gameplay loop. I went solo as Batgirl and genuinely glowed during the Harley Quinn fight, mostly because of the brilliant cover of Ricky Martin’s -Livin’ La Vida Loca- by NOBRO, and I am not alone:
That is an absolutely perfectly commissioned needle-drop. I’ll also note: the Harley Quinn here? Not my favorite Harley, but I still found her to be intriguing!
I’d also like to note that, unlike many other games, GOTHAM KNIGHTS has a bunch of women goons of all shapes and sizes, and I can’t help but appreciate that because — usually — it’s all dudes.
I bought GOTHAM KNIGHTS despite having read the lukewarm reviews because I was in a mood where I just wanted something I could zone out to and mindlessly mission back-and-forth to and it delivered, as so many middlingly-reviewed games are prone to do. It’s not perfect, but it does have moments of brilliance, and in-between it’ll rarely frustrate you which, frankly, is all I need from a game, and hell, I may just replay it with the alternate characters! (I’ve read that Nightwing is especially delightful to play as.)