Batman: Animated Series‘the animation department received a standing order from the show’s co-creator, Eric Radomski: Instead of working to the industry standard of dark colors on white paper, the background would be drawn using light colors on black paper. This forms what the show’s producers call “dark decoration,” a unique aesthetic drawn from Tim Burton’s Batman, detective, and art deco films. When I think of Gotham, it is this Gotham that comes to mind.
When Rocksteady created his Arkham games, the developer drew from this episodic masterpiece. The trilogy not only takes the animated series’ stellar voice cast, but also emulates its version of Gotham in dark decor: Gothic architecture, a large moon, and a styled interior and exterior Art deco way, noir mood and light. This description is the crux of Arkham City and Arkham Knight.
It’s a pity that in the latest open world game set in Gotham, WB Games Montréal’s Knight of Gothams (which I have done interesting), the richly characteristic depiction of the city, as a character unique to itself, is blurred out, along with its villains. Gotham, Batman, and his gallery are inextricably linked: All great Batman stories are woven from these three threads. Thinning any of these will result in a less rich tapestry for whatever Batman story is woven.
[Ed. note: Spoilers for Gotham Knights follow.]
Knight of Gotham sees you don the mantle of Batman as the guardian of the honorable city after his death, in the trembling boots of four patrons: Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, and Red Hood. Every night, four people patrol an open-world Gotham. This was a city covered in fog clinging to buildings in the distance; multicolored light penetrates the dark; gentle rains fell on the walls and the rubber clothes; gargoyles hang all over the different buildings. It is, at least on the surface, striving to imitate Gotham. However, I found it completely devoid of character: Its homogenous, lifeless districts differed only in name, and it didn’t evolve at all during the Bat-family’s campaign in Gotham Knights. This gotham feels more like a flat plane of monotony than a patchwork of personality.
the city of Arkham and Knight Arkham deal directly with Gotham itself as character and space: You have undergone permanent changes in architecture or landscape. (In the city of Arkham, Joker blows up a tower; In Knight ArkhamBatman often “redecorates” buildings and roads with his tank.) In the city of Arkham, Two-Face’s minions, stand out in a two-tone wardrobe, break into banks and cars; Joker’s minions in clown makeup hang around in carnival-like costumes. The right events happen in specific neighborhoods, giving Gotham depth, and thus, identity. Rocksteady’s takes on Gotham, along with WB Montréal’s own in 2013 Arkham Origins, to a lesser extent, has gained a strong connection with the deeper aspects of Gotham, as they see Gotham as a well-rounded character. Gotham’s Knight of Gothamhowever, it is static, monotonous and boring. Mr. Freeze’s sustained damage is due to the change in weather. What is the structural damage after Clayface’s escape?
What makes this worse is Knight of Gotham mishandling a group of villains who, throughout their journey in the comics, are the intriguing, insidious embodiment of the city’s ill-fated history: Court of the owls.
Despite being one of the oldest entities in the Batman universe, the Court was only introduced to Batman mythology in 2012. The Court is comprised of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Gotham, the who maintains control through espionage and assassination. They’re wild and scary, they work in the dark, and they’re as much of a threat to Batman as they are to Bruce Wayne.
The court has only ever been introduced outside of the comics in the excellent animated film Batman vs. Robinand in the TV show Gotham. Of course, the prospect of headbutting them was one of Knight of Gotham‘biggest initial withdrawal. My love for all things wild and creepy means I have high hopes for these new villains.
Unfortunately, Knight of Gotham suddenly stands outside the Courthouse after a mass carnage by the League of Shadows, another recurring group of villains in Batman lore. All the intrigue and excitement surrounding the Court is gone: While we have minor Court-related side quests, these are single-digit quests with little or no depth. . They usually involve a fight with a few strays, but nothing bigger comes from these encounters. One of the main threats to the Bat-family in the game’s marketing becomes little more than a chapter in the larger story. Knight of Gotham squandered an opportunity to delve into the veins of Gotham, to root out the Court that poisons the city, the group itself sees itself as a cure. Will Gotham collapse without the Courts? Will the city grow irreversibly? These are fascinating questions. But in Knight of Gothamthey just ask to come over.
With Batman dead, and its most interesting villains wiped out in the blink of an eye, the weight falls on the city to lift the spirits. Knight of Gotham. But Gotham didn’t sell. The landscape does change, but only during closed main quests that leave no permanent scars on the open world.
Rocksteady’s Batman is constantly falling, and its Gotham is no different: trees burst from crevices, poisons hang in the air, oceans seek to buy, etc. That’s because figure change and Gotham itself Candlestick is a character. That concept is not in Knight of Gotham.
Knight of Gotham Gotham got dirty by making all its counties and world activities homogenous; it has access to the Court of Owls, one of the Batman canon’s most compelling actors, but being removed it’s like Batman can drop a loaded gun. There is no development in this world because its world is just a backdrop. Knight of Gotham creates a killing spree of the Dark Knight in its first moments. Biggest tragedy? It also kills Gotham.