Batman: Arkham Asylum is the first game in the series. Most people would consider it as a hiatus for the superhero genre.
It cemented the open-world, action-adventure formula, follow-up games like Marvel’s Spider-Man use. Moreover, the series delivers a fluid, smooth, and brutal combat gameplay system.
You play as Batman, and the setting is the fictional Gotham City.
Batman has multiple tools and gadgets to defeat enemies, solve riddles, or complete challenges. More importantly, he fights through a proprietary system, FreeFlow. It allows the character to chain unlimited combos and gadgets seamlessly.
The main titles offer a character progression system as well. Batman gains experience, levels up, and develops skills, gears, and gadgets.
Lastly, there’re other playable characters aside from Batman, like Robin, Nightwing, or Catwoman. Some villains are also playable during some game portions, or DLCs, like Deathstroke and The Joker.
That’s the core experience of the series, albeit every game presents new mechanics. Yet, some of the spinoffs are vastly different.
Table of Contents
Rocksteady Studios created the first game in the series. It debuted for Xbox 360, PS3, Windows, and macOS in 2009. It’s arguably one of the best action-adventure games in history.
You play as Batman, trying to stop The Joker from destroying Gotham City with a terrorist attack. The vigilante pursues the villain towards the Arkham Asylum. Within the asylum, the Joker unleashes an unstable medicine that turns the locals into dangerous lunatics.
The game runs with an over-the-shoulder perspective through the Unreal Engine. Batman can jump, run, climb, crouch, and fight. He can also dive with his cape and use a pistol hook to travel across roofs.
Aside from exploration, the game places a heavy focus on combat and puzzle-solving. Particularly, the game includes a “Detective Mode” that allows players to find clues, enemies, and valuable objects. Combat has stealth, melee attacks, combos, gadgets, and acrobatics.
Lastly, the game has a Metroidvania design. That means the map is fully open, but you need to unlock certain abilities or tools to reach certain places.
Arkham Asylum DLCs
There’re multiple DLCs available for Arkham Asylum. Most bring challenge maps, which are unique areas that offer a reward in return for a tough task.
The GoTY edition has four extra Challenge Maps: Crime Alley, Scarecrow Nightmare, Totally Insane, and Nocturnal Hunter. On top of that, it’s a remastered edition.
There’s a single DLC that adds content, which is 2009’s Play As The Joker. It allows you to brawl as the villain through special areas. Sadly, it was a pre-order PlayStation exclusive, so it’s not available anymore. Yet PC players can find it as a mod.
Arkham City is the second entry in the game, also by Rocksteady Studios. It debuted in 2011 for PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows.
A year after Arkham Asylum, Gotham City authorities created Arkham City, a huge prison complex. At the same time, a group of TYGER mercenaries captured Bruce Wayner after Hugo Strange revealed his double identity. Therefore, both The Joker and Batman are inside the prison. They must find a way out before Ra’s al Ghul completes his master plan: destroying the city with all of the prisoners inside.
Arkham City plays very much like its predecessor, only refining its multiple mechanics. Moreover, it adds new skills to the gadgets, thus giving Batman more tools to combat, explore, and investigate.
Particularly, the game changed the Detective Mode for an Augmented Reality Mode. They felt the former could make the game easier, so Augmented Reality has fewer advantages. Lastly, there’re optional Riddler challenges and puzzles.
Arkham City received a universal claim for its gameplay, plot, and graphics. Many critics place it side to side with games like The Elder Scrolls V, Portal 2, Half-Life 2, Uncharted 3, and Gears of War 3.
Arkham City DLCs
Arkham City has multiple DLCs available. Most of them bring challenge maps, playable characters, gear, skins, and similar.
The most significant is Harley Quinn’s Revenge, available for Xbox 360, PlayStation, and Windows. The DLC revolves around defeating Harley Quinn on an industrial complex.
The Batman: Arkham City GOTY is a 2012 bundle that includes every available DLC.
Batman: Arkham City Lockdown (Spin-off) – 2011
Arkham City Lockdown is an Arkham City spinoff. NetherRealm Studios created the title for iOS (2011) and Android (2013). It’s no longer available in the official stores.
It’s still canon within the Arkham universe. It happens before Arkham City, where Batman tries to capture several villains who escaped from Arkham Asylum. The villains include Two Faces, Deathstroke, Solomon Grundy, and The Joker.
The setting opens up 2D one-on-one battles. There’re multiple options on the tactile screen, plus the ability to dodge attacks by swiping the display sideways.
Batman: Arkham Origins debuted for Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in 2013. Warner Bros. Games Montreal created the game, and so they introduced various new features. Aside from changing the studio, Warner also changed the game’s writer and some voice-over actors. Particularly, Mark Hammil didn’t participate as The Joker.
The new plot is a prequel, and it takes place before Arkham Asylum. The game follows a younger Batman hunting down Black Mask alongside some of the world’s most lethal assassins.
Gameplay is similar to before. Batman uses a combination of stealth, gadgets, fluid combat to explore and defeat enemies. The game has new devices, tools, and abilities, as well as some familiar items.
The game also introduces a fast-travel system. Batman can use his plane to travel to other areas in the world. However, there’re installations Batman has to take down before using the plane in some areas.
Also, the game brings back Detective Mode, and it has new abilities. For example, it can rewind and fast-forward time to play out crime scenes. Batman can see the crimes in the Batcomputer to discover more clues. Similarly, Batman can enter his Batcave, the game’s hub. It’s where players can swap, upgrade, and customize gear and gadgets.
Lastly, the game includes various game modes and a multiplayer mode. The multiplayer is a battle between heroes (Batman and Robin) and villains (Joker and Bane).
Despite its multiple add-ons, critics and fans often believe Origins is not as good as Asylum or Arkham City. For example, the first two games have over 90 points on Metacritic, whereas Origins has 74 points (PC version).
Some of the things fans disliked include combat mechanics that made the game easier, overpowered detective mode, and re-hashed mechanics.
Arkham Origins DLCs
As before, the game has multiple DCLs with maps, skins, challenges, and similar. For example, a challenge map makes you play as Black Mask, and a similar offer makes you play as Deathstroke.
Initiation is one of the best challenge maps. It includes a narration that takes Batman back to its training days. As such, you must complete Bruce Wayne’s inhuman martial arts training.
Currently, there’s a campaign DLC available for all platforms, Cold Cold Heart. The post-launch content makes Batman face Mr. Freeze to save Ferris Boyle.
Arkham Origins Blackgate is a 2.5D Origins spinoff. The game debuted in 2013 for Nintendo 3DS before reaching PS Vita, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and PC. Finally, the developer behind the title is Armature Studio.
The game continues Origin’s story with the next chapter of the Dark Knight’s past. Batman must enter the Blackgate prison to stop a mutiny and save the hostages.
The setting delivers a side-scrolling brawler adventure. Combat gameplay focuses on stealth, gadgets, and melee attacks. However, there’s no leveling system. Instead of that, Batman upgrades devices and finds new tools for combat.
Arkham Knight is the latest main entry in the series. Rocksteady Studios returned for the fourth game and launched the game in 2015 for Xbox One, PS4, and Windows.
The plot happens one year after Arkham City. Batman is facing the Scarecrow, who launched a massive attack on Gotham City. The Arkham Knight is helping the villain, and he has reunited several villains to destroy the Dark Knight once and for all.
Gameplay brings back stealth, Detective Mode, melee attacks, and gadgets. Additionally, the game introduces the Batmobile to drive and combat, more devices, more melee skills, and a bigger open world.
If Arkham Asylum is the prologue, Arkham Knight is the epilogue. It offers the best graphics, combat, and animations in the series. There’s also a wide cast of characters, including Robbin, Catwoman, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, Arkham Knight, and Simon Stagg.
Even so, the game has some flaws. Fans often point out the lack of enemy variety and odd driving mechanics. Moreover, the game debuted with several glitches and performance issues, which is why there’re no ports for macOS, SteamOS, or Linux, as developers had promised.
Arkham Knight DLCs
First, we have to name the Season of Infamy Most Wanted Expansion. The content has four missions where Batman faces various super-villains in the Gotham City streets. These villains are Ra’s Al Ghul, The Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, and Mr. Freeze.
As before, Arkham Knight includes several DLCs. Mostly, you’d find challenge maps, skins, gear, and similar. For example, “A Flip of a Coin ” is a challenge map that allows you to play as Robin.
There’re campaign DLCs as well. It’s the “Harley Quinn Story Pack,” where you play as the psychotic femme-fatale. She must save a friend in need and causes havoc and destruction to achieve her goals.
Another story-pack is the GDP lockdown. It allows you to play as Nightwing as he hunts for Penguin.
The “A Matter of Family” DLC allows you to play as Batgirl. The story takes place before Arkham Asylum, and her mission is to save her father (Commissioner Gordon) from criminals.
Similarly, “Catwoman’s Revenge” allows you to play as the heroine, once again, after the events of Arkham Knight.
Lastly, in the “Red Hood Story Pack,” you can play as the Red Hood vigilante and take down a criminal empire.
You may get most of this content by buying the Arkham Knight Premium Edition, including the Season Pass.
Batman: Return to Arkham (Remaster) – 2016
Return to Arkham is a 2016 Remaster of the original games. The pack includes both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. It also has most of the DLCs available for both games.
Aside from the content, it has remastered graphics, audio, and textures. It doesn’t change anything regarding the plot, gameplay, and mechanics.
However, it upgraded the graphical engine and swapped Unreal Engine 3 for Unreal Engine 4. That made the game brighter and changed the overall tone of the series.
Moreover, the game improved resolution to deliver a 1080p performance. Yet, the frame rate stays at 30fps.
The bundle debuted for Xbox One and PS4. It’s not available for PC. Often, players recommend going for the GOTY editions instead, as the Return to Arkham version has significant performance issues. Moreover, Rocksteady was not part of the remaster.
Batman: Arkham Underworld (Spin-off) – 2016
Batman: Arkham Underworld was a mobile spinoff by Turbine. It debuted for iOS and Android in 2016.
Underworld was a strategy game. You played as a Gotham criminal kingpin and face both villains and heroes for control of the city.
The game is not currently available in official stores. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good game. I believe it was a great idea, as it uses Arkham villains to deliver an isometric RPG.
Arkham VR is a new experience that allows you to play as the Dark Knight in virtual reality.
It’s a new story, though, and there’s hardly any action gameplay. Instead, you use your gadgets to find clues, unravel a plot, and find Richard Greyson’s (Nightwing) and save his friends. The story takes place between Arkham City and Arkham Knight.
In other words, Batman: Arkham VR is a puzzle-solving virtual reality experience. However, it is very short, and players can complete the entire game in less than two hours.
Either way, Arkham VR debuted in 2016 for PlayStation 4 (PlayStation VR) and Windows (HTC VIVE or Oculus Rift).
Every Batman: Arkham Game in Chronological Order
- Batman: Arkham Asylum – 2009
- Batman: Arkham City – 2011
- Batman: Arkham City Lockdown (Spin-off) – 2011
- Batman: Arkham Origins – 2013
- Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (Spin-off) – 2013
- Batman: Arkham Knight – 2015
- Batman: Return to Arkham (Remaster) – 2016
- Batman: Arkham Underworld (Spin-off) – 2016
- Batman: Arkham VR (Spin-off) – 2016