Gotham Knights is a brand-new open world, third-person action RPG featuring the Batman Family as players step into the roles of Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood and Robin, a new guard of trained DC Super Heroes who must rise up as the protectors of Gotham City in the wake of Batman’s death. An expansive, criminal underworld has swept through the streets of Gotham, and it is now up to these new heroes to protect the city, bring hope to its citizens, discipline to its cops and fear to its criminals. Players must save Gotham from descent into chaos and reinvent themselves into their own version of the Dark Knight.
Central to the game is the Knights Headquarters, the Belfry. This central hub allows you to choose and customise your character, talk with the other nights and assess your evidence board. Evidence is collected through nightly patrols where you all scan for crimes and stop them from happening.
The majority of Gotham is available immediately so you can explore and discover crimes all over the city. They’ll range from simple muggings to fully blown gang operations. Certain enemies you defeat will give you intelligence about premeditated crimes that will take place on future nights. While some enemies will automatically give you intel, others will need to be interrogated.
You have complete freedom to spend as long as you want in the city, however when you decide to return to Belfry any crimes you haven’t stopped will be gone forever. It’s the same result if you are killed during a fight. When you return your evidence board will be populated with future quests.
Completing patrols also rewards you with XP, allowing you to mould your favourite character into the kind of fighter you want to play as. Levelling up grants you skill points that can be spent in the skills trees for each character, dictating what they excel at. If you want to play heavy-handed you can concentrate on combat skills and gadgets, turning you into either a tank or DPS character that can soak-up or deal heavy damage respectively.
Meanwhile, focus on stealth instead and you can become a master of opportunity takedowns, making yourself practical undetectable to enemies and even security cameras to allow you to prowl around unmolested. You could even focus on critical hits and dodging, making you a slippery, hard-hitting combatant. There’s a great variety of skills that help make the experience fit your preferred playstyle.
Each of the four knights have the own individual style, Batgirl is highly trained in a variety of fighting styles, such as kickboxing, capoeira, and jiu-jitsu. Her signature weapon is the tonfa. She is also great at hacking or coding in computers and technological systems to dig for information.
Robin is an expert fighter armed with his collapsible quarterstaff and skilled in the art of stealth. Nightwing boasts mastery in acrobatics and is an expert at taking down enemies with his signature dual escrima sticks, while Red Hood is proficient in multiple combat techniques with all manner of weapons—both traditional and high-tech.
Gotham Knights lacks the fluidity of the Arkham games, both in traversal and combat. Moving around the space feels clunky and unresponsive. Character movement has momentum and acceleration, making movement look realistic but feels delayed, this is especially noticeable when making turns in vents or moving from a stationary position.
Each character has a grapplehook to aid in their traversal of the environment but there’s a surprisingly limited amount of verticality in some areas, or even points that look like they should support your grapplehook but don’t offer you that option. Meanwhile, running and jumping doesn’t feel accurate, making it all too easy to fall off points of elevation or fail to escape an area quickly because you can’t vault or climb something without bashing a button repeatedly.
Meanwhile, combat feels decent but ultimately an imitation of the Arkham system, it’s mechanically the same, incorporating light, heavy, ranged and grab attacks to manage your foes and exploit their weaknesses, with the now ubiquitous dodge rounding out the experience, however, while the combat looks fancy enough, and certainly gets the job done, there’s a lack of feedback in terms of sound effects and even in controller rumble.
There’s no denying the satisfaction it brings as you pound enemies into the ground, or into nearby obstacles, but it’s not as impactful and smooth as seen in the Arkham games and Lord of the Ring Shadow titles. It’s pleasingly cinematic though. The acrobatics are nicely animated and there’s a variety of slow-motion takedowns to enjoy, with some neat looking attacks when you cooperate with nearby teammates. Meanwhile, the particle effects from things like Molotov cocktails looks terrific, and the visual cues for dodging and avoiding bullets or thrown objects is pleasantly obvious.
Gotham Knights nails the Batman atmosphere and aesthetic. The city of Gotham is wonderfully dense, gothic and noir in style, and each of the characters looks and sounds perfect. Strong voice acting and a script that feels true to each character helps immerse you. Furthermore, a rich selection of suits for each character lets you enjoy your crime fighting in style – once you unlock them. Even the way villains are portrayed and how their related missions play out feels appropriate to the source material. An early Harley Quinn mission ends up with a huge prison brawl to a punk rock version of Ricky Martin’s Livin’ la vida loca playing in the background, feeling absolutely perfect for that character’s special brand of insanity.
Where Gotham Knights excels is its handling of the co-op. While your partner is in your world they are free to do whatever they please aside from main and side missions that need to be completed together. If you decide to fight a crime together you can or you can divide and conquer if you prefer. What I liked most was that if you weren’t hosting and completed a mission further on that you had got to in your save when you reach that point in your save the game will recognise you have completed it already but will give you the option to replay it. Enemies are scaled called based on your skill level so it’s a fair fight for whoever plays. The biggest shame is that it isn’t 4 player co-op.
Gotham Knights does some things really well, there is an interesting story and the co-op works really well but the game is let down by the frustrating movement around Gotham.