I’ve been playing Batman: Arkham Knight, a game about a billionaire who never says thank you to his employees. I’m really enjoying it so far. I expected to have a good time flying around Gotham and beating up thugs. What I didn’t expect was how good the investigations would be.
Arkham Knight allows you to toggle a setting called Detective Mode, where Batman will use his Bat-sensors or whatever to scan the world around him for enemies, traps, and secrets. The concept of Detective Mode, which you can now find in everything from The Witcher 3 to Horizon: Zero Dawn, was popularised by Arkham Asylum, the first game in Rocksteady’s dark trilogy. So it’s not incredibly shocking that Arkham Knight is the best at it.
In Arkham Knight, you can use Detective Mode for two purposes. One is for combat, where you can methodically scan, identify, and take down enemies using your Bat-radar. The other is for investigations, which haven’t been common in what I’ve played so far of the game, but are incredibly cool when they show up.
One investigation in particular impressed me. You need to figure out just what happened to a car driven by the eponymous Arkham Knight, a masked superhero who dresses sort of like a bat (no relation).
Light spoilers, by the way.
Early in the game, the Arkham Knight has kidnapped your assistant Oracle, aka Barbara Gordon, daughter of the loveable police commissioner. At one point, you track down a crashed car that the two of them were in, in an attempt to figure out what happened. When you get to the car, you’re asked not just to poke around for evidence, but to use your Bat-skillz to recreate the entire crime scene, winding backward and forward on a virtual video so you can look for clues to how everything went down.
With enough poking, you’ll be able to figure out where the car crashed, how it crashed, and then what happened to Barbara as she crawled away and left a piece of key evidence for Batman to find. Playing through this is incredibly cool, like someone slipped a heavy dose of Phoenix Wright into the latest Arkham game. None of it is difficult, but it does make you feel like you’re a real detective rather than just some putz hitting L3 to make everything turn blue.
If you want to see what this looks like, here’s video of the whole investigation:
I love that Arkham Knight is full of variety. It’s long — a little too long — but I’m having a blast taking out rooms full of baddies, grappling around the city, and investigating crime scenes. And yes, I even like the Batmobile. The tank controls are just fine.