Games like Batman: Arkham Asylum are why I should never start a new game before I have exhausted the previous game I was playing. I am about 50 hours into Skyrim and 40 into Pokémon Moon and figured that I would think of Arkham Asylum as just okay. Shows what I know because I love it.
I use the present tense of ‘love’ because I have nowhere near finished this. I am quite far in, but this is a game with such a well integrated set of collectables. Seriously, it takes a lot to get me keen for completing an in-game collection; so far I think only the National Dex from Pokémon Platinum, the gold bricks of Lego games and the many collectables of Saints Row IV have really brought out the completionist in me.
What helps is that the collectables are actually interesting; well, as long as you are into the Batman universe. This is one of the things that makes Arkham Asylum work. So much care and attention has gone into the scripting, world building, easter eggs and the storyline. You can tell that people who love Batman were heavily involved in the making of this game and, therefore, Arkham Asylum plays like a love letter to fans.
So many people have mentioned this already, but isn’t Mark Hamill just amazing as the Joker? Don’t get me wrong, the voice acting on the whole is fantastic (Arleen Sorkin is also a standout as Harley Quinn: my favourite villain), but this game really does belong to Mark Hamill. Such a world apart from anything I have seen Mark Hamill do before – which gives away the sad truth of my never having seen the Batman animated series. Shameful, I know.
One other character I really want to highlight is Scarecrow. As a character this guy is one of the scarier villains because of his extreme detachment and his ability to turn your psyche inside out. In the game this ability of his is weaved in with some rather unsettling sequences. Now, I know that the bit where Scarecrow makes Batman relive the murder of his parents is probably meant to be the gut punch. However, the whole ‘haunted morgue’ bit was so fantastically creepy that a lot of the scenes that occurred immediately afterwards felt remarkably tame.
Honestly, this is a game that makes me wish I knew more about the Batman comic books. I get so many references because of geeky osmosis, so I can only imagine just how many Easter eggs are on display for this with the knowledge. It also makes me wish that I had actually watched the animated series. I mean, I was probably not the right age when it was on originally, but not seeking it out as I have grown up is ridiculous. This needs to be rectified.