Batman: Arkham VR is Amazing(ly short)

In reviewing a game that takes no longer than an hour to complete, you’re forced to re-evaluate the notion that longer means better. Sure, riding a horse through swamps for 200 hours in Witcher 3 is satisfying, but I’d gladly trade it all for the 60 minutes I spent inside the Batsuit.

The game starts with an origin scene that shows young Bruce Wayne in an alley. After witnessing both parents gunned down during a botched robbery, you’re instantly captivated. You’re shocked, frightened, and anxiously anticipating what’s next; it’s instantly engrossing.

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What’s next is a trip to Wayne Manor to talk with Alfred and learn a little bit about how your new hands — the move controllers — work. Alfred hands you a key, and you use it to unlock a grand piano. After tapping a few keys, you’re lowered into a room where you’ll don the Batsuit for the first time. After a quick look in the mirror it starts to feel real, you really are Batman.

Granted, your version lacks the acrobatic trickery of past Arkham games. The on-screen movement is, at times, awkward. Your movement while playing, equally so. Nothing snaps you out of the experience like stepping on a wire or accidentally yanking out an earbud. Since it’s a game better played while standing, you’ll experience both with some frequency.

Still, nothing is quite like nailing targets with a Batarang, or scanning dead bodies in the morgue with a tool that can see through human flesh. Throughout it all, you have 360 degree vision of your surroundings as well as 3D audio that keeps you engaged and completely oblivious to the outside world.

It’s amazing.

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Sadly, you’re not able to use your newfound abilities to kick ass in the game. There isn’t a single fight scene and your move controllers never double as fists capable of dislodging teeth from baddies.

Instead, it’s essentially an experiential mini-movie with a few puzzles to solve along the way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you have expectations of acrobatics and ass-kicking, like in previous Arkham games, you’re going to be disappointed. Thrilled, but then disappointed.

The game displays what the headset is capable of, but you can’t help but feel slighted when it’s all over. At $20 though, it’s probably worth the price tag for nothing more than showing off VR to interested friends. The ability to jump to any scene previously played really lends a lot to the ‘hey, check this out’ approach when wanting to see how others react — which you will definitely want to do after playing.

And the ending. Wow.

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