The cinematic launch trailer for Gotham Knights just dropped, like a masked vigilante, on a henchman in a dark alley. While the visuals and story look great, I’m still not convinced that four bats are better than one.
The trailer features each member of the bat family, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl and Redhood. One by one, the trailer shows them through the backstreets of Gotham’s grimy, neon-lit city, taking down bad guys, gangs, and criminals.
But it’s not just his fighting skills that are on display. Each member of the bat family also has their deepest insecurities expressed as they crusade through the dark city – “helper, inadequate, replaceable” are just a few of the doubts Robin faces. It’s a nice addition to the cinematic trailer as it shows how these superheroes and vigilantes are more than just their masks.
This look at each member’s psyche seems to be an integral part of the game’s narrative. Especially since, spoiler alert, it doesn’t look like Batman is going to beat up any criminals in the Knights of Gotham, not under a headstone, at least. So I have a feeling Gotham Knights will see the team of four fight the bad guys and their emotions as they deal with the loss of Batman.
But the question remains whether the introduction of four very different heroes and vigilantes works well for a series known for having a figurehead. Can WB Games connect the synergy of characters who have very different personalities? I’m not sure, but I think they’ll still have to rely on Batman’s help.
It would be a lie to say that the Gotham Knights game had a good ride. WB Games has made some questionable decisions – I can’t help but think immediately of the Living the Vida Loca incident.
A few days ago, video game critic Janet Garcia released footage of Gotham Knights showing Batgirl fighting in a prison fight where, seemingly out of nowhere, a female cover of Ricky Martin’s Living the Vida Loca starts playing the mid-fight scene. Working well-known music into combat worked brilliantly in Guardians of the Galaxy, but that didn’t sit well with me in Gotham Knights. Instead of a cool fight scene, I could only see a cheap attempt to please a female audience.
I have to tell you that during my Gotham Knights preview, Living la Vida Loca started playing and it was by far the weakest moment of my session. My jaw dropped when it started playing and I was like wtf is happening rn. pic.twitter.com/b75lvP6VFmOctober 6, 2022
It’s not just Batgirl that had a questionable introduction. When I found out they had given Redhood magic, I was totally confused. Redhood is one of my favorite DC characters. His character point, like most members of the bat family, is that he has no superpowers, just impeccable marksmanship, experience in hand-to-hand combat, and of course, a stylish red helmet. I understand that Redhood was raised from the dead in the comics, so reality can stretch when it comes to his character. Still, being able to summon magical platforms in the air feels like a useful game mechanic rather than a natural extension of your character.
breaths with bait
It’s not all bad news. The cinematic trailer that has just been released is proof of that. The direction of the story looks promising. Each character shown has a notoriously complicated relationship with Bruce Wayne or Batman, and exploring that in Gotham Knights could mean we have a better understanding of who these characters are without the shadow of the Caped Crusader hanging over them.
I just hope WB Games doesn’t try to do too much. Each of these characters would be an interesting clue for a game set in Gotham. Especially Nightwing and Redhood, who have so much material written about them. But combining four of these characters can muddy the water.
Less is often more, and the Arkham games are a great example of this. You knew where you stood when it came to Batman’s purpose and ethics. But in Gotham Knights, you have stark contrasts. First and foremost, Nightwing honors Bruce’s legacy by continuing his work fighting criminals while making a name for himself under Batman’s shadow. Alternatively, there’s Redhood, which is incredibly complicated. As a vigilante, he outwardly rejects Batman’s ideals of non-lethal justice, as he has no problem putting a bullet through someone’s skull. These two alone are so different that it will be interesting to see how WB Games brings every four members of the bat family together into one game.