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Arkham Knight – a buffet with your favorite food, but you are not allowed to leave before you ate all of it

I just played through Arkham Knight courtesy of the PS Plus Collection that you get with your PS5. And hey the Season Pass is on sale too and I bought that too for 5 bucks.

And now I feel like I went to a buffet with my favorite food, but wasn't allowed to leave before I ate all of it.

To preface this, I am a Batman fan generally, have read quite a few of the most famous comic arcs, watched all the movies, grew up with the animated series. When Arkham Asylum cam out I played the hell out of that on 360. It was a straightforward premise, managed to include a ton of villains in a believable way and the extra activities as well as the combat rooms felt great. You could clear the Riddler challenges while playing and then do the few remaining ones at the end.

Arkham City was already a step down for me because they lost the lean, crunchy premise from AA. The story was more convoluted and it took a few lesser elements from the predecessor and amplified them, not always in a good way.

Enter Arkham Knight. A game overflowing with major and minor characters from the entire Batman universe. It's main story is actually three main stories in one (Arkham Knight, Scarecrow, Joker's Blood) and goes on for a while. And then there are countless side missions and activities that bring in even more characters, even more so if you install the DLCs that tie into the main game. And it's all so much that it becomes tedious and there are so many story beats that it all blurs together.

And when you beat the main story, you get a pretty good ending but a lot of threads still hanging in the air. That's when the game reveals: "Hey, you there, Batman fan, wanna get the real ending? The real, real ending? Then you NEED to finish all the side missions in the game." And that's where the overeating starts if I stick with my buffet metaphor.

As an example, right from the start you experience one of the major additions in this game: The Batmobil. If you don't like this addition, you can basically uninstall the game, it's a core gameplay pillar. I came around to it and after a bit of a learning curve it's fun to use it for a while. But here is the thing, and that's the biggest fault of Arkham Knight for every element and mechanic: You won't just use the Batmobil for a while, no you will use this extensively, far beyond the point of enjoyment or a sense of novelty. Throughout the story it's crucial but it's also part of more than 30? side missions afterwards. Not 30 carefully crafted ones, no 30 copy/paste activities. And then there are also 17 firemen to rescue, 20 or so checkpoints to clear and it just goes on.

That's already a lot to ask but the real cracker is that you also need to finish the 243 Riddler challenges. TWO HUNDRED FORTY THREE. What the absolute fucking fuck? Even without these, the remaining actives are already a chore but this is the cherry on top. In Arkham Asylum I got all the Riddler trophies during the normal gameplay loop. I have 10% of them in Arkham Knight.

It feels like this game was designed by an algorithm that dictated: Each gameplay mechanic needs to cover at least 10 hours of playtime.

In the end I liked the game fine but the unresolved ending or rather the cost to resolve it leaves a sour aftertaste after the narrative beats worked well and better than in Arkham City. My favorite experience of the game was probably the Batgirl DLC which was basically a mini Arkham Asylum. More of that would have been great – but not THAT much more of course.


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