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Game Review

Well, here we are with the holiday season right around the corner. So, of course, families are considering which toys, games and other gifts they might want to pick up for the kids.

Since the Dark Knight is such a perennial superhero favorite—and a relatively new PlayStation Batman video game was recently nominated for best virtual reality game of the year—it only makes sense that we should strap on our utility belt (and our massive VR headset) and see what this groundbreaking game is all about.

First of all, let me say that Batman: Arkham VR isn't exactly what you might imagine it to be. Yes, you do get to find one of Bruce Wayne's secret passageways into the Batcave and suit up in Batman's gear. You see yourself in a Bat mirror, all stubble-chinned and fiercely cowled. You do get a bat's-eye view of the Batcave, including its snazzy computer analyzers, its rogues gallery of holographic images, its Batarang target range and other puzzle-deciphering activities. You even get to jump in the Batmobile and head out to dig up clues at a murder scene. (Though you don't drive as much as you just teleport from one location to the next most of the time.)

That's all pretty cool. But to be honest, beyond that, this game is a pretty limited and at times a dark affair indeed.

Murder Without the Mayhem

I can't say much about the game's short story without saying too much, so I'll simply report that this game focuses on a murder mystery. A hero that Batman knows quite well has been brutally battered, broken and killed by some unnamed assailant. And as the Dark Knight investigates, other deaths begin to mount. But as the Caped Crusader starts piecing together vital clues, he can't help but wonder if there isn't a rather delirious form of evil at play.

Gameplay wise, this title is much more excited about immersing you in Batman's world than it is actually letting you do a lot of Bat-battling. From the Batcave to Crime Alley to Arkham's sewers, whether looking Oswald Cobblepot in the mug or flinching from Killer Kroc's gnashing teeth, the you-are-there visuals on offer here are indeed impressive. But when you actually want to do something, it's a different story.

Players use the PlayStation Move Motion controllers to control Batman's gloved hands. That allows you the ability to reach for your utility belt and access things such as a forensic x-ray scanner, a quick-fling Batarang or a grappling hook. The scanner, for instance, lets you analyze your surroundings and reconstitute a digital recreation of a battle that may have transpired. With a quick twist of your wrist you can rewind its holographic record, pause or skip ahead. You can also use the device to scan a safe's keyboard for fingerprints.

You do get to move around … a bit. Players can grapple from here to there in a blink, or grab a distant object and pull it to yourself. But most of the time you're pretty stationary, examining a given area or gathering clues to solve the game's mystery. And that lack of ready movement can feel a little strange at times if you're used to Batman's usual run-leap-swing-and-tumble ways.

And if you're also expecting to be able to clench that mighty Bat fist and give some bad guys a good a Bat-beatdown, well, that's another element of this usually physical hero that you won't be engaging.

So if we can't swing and thump the baddies, what then makes this Batgame so Batdark?

It's the Attitude

There is quite a bit of death in this M-rated game. And while there's not a lot of gore here, its groundbreaking virtual-reality rendering lends the images we do see a very realistic—and very grim—feel. For example, we see burned corpses, hologram-defined broken bones and torn flesh in this hyper-visual world. As a result, the game feels dark, dank and bloody. In addition, a swirling, bleak sense of slipping sanity permeates this immersive, goggles-on-your-face experience.

Now, that may not seem like anything new in a comic book milieu that's generally dominated by a totally bonkers madman like the Joker. But Batman: Arkham VR just seems to amplify that craziness in its tale. Even to the point of making Batman himself feel much more creepy.

So Bat fans and VR adapters have a decision to make. There are some immersive things here that want to grapple-hook you into this hero's dark world. Some are kinda fun. But a lot of them are disturbingly dark.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range







Record Label


PlayStation 4


Warner Bros. Interactive


October 13, 2016

On Video

Year Published



Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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