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Gotham Knights Review (PS5) An Entertaining Action-RPG That Manages To Shine Without Its Main Star

Gotham Knights Review (PS5) Warner Brothers Montreal has taken a bold step with Gotham Knights. It’s killing off one of the most recognized superhero’s in the world and putting you in control of his protégé’s.

It’s a bold move that’s managed to pay off as they drop you into the underbelly of Gotham City with four of his most trusted allies. Though most WB Montreal’s gambles pay off, some, unfortunately, hold it back from achieving greatness.

Gotham Knights Review (PS5) – An Entertaining Action-RPG That Manages To Shine Without It’s Main Star

A Detective Comics Story

Batman is dead. After an entertaining opening cinematic, the bat family consisting of Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, and Red Hood must take on the mental of protecting Gotham City while trying to deal with the loss of their mentor and, for some, their father figure.

The story follows the family as they continue Batman’s final case before he dies, believing that his work on the case led to his death.

What I loved about the story is that it follows more of a detective story than the Arkham games. There is a mystery to solve, and the game does a great job of harkening back to the detective comics roots that Batman was all about when he was conceived.

I won’t talk much about the story because some nice surprises are present. What bothered me is that most of Batman’s rogues don’t play a role in the main story. Outside of Harley Quinn, who plays a small yet pivotal role, she doesn’t have much to do with the main quest. This goes double for Mr. Freeze and Clayface.

Instead, these characters have their own quests for you to take on and mysteries to solve. These side quests will span the entirety of the game as more and more missions unlock throughout the game.

Batman’s Not The Only Hero In Gotham

Each member of the Bat Family is unique and has their own fighting style and abilities. Unlike Batman, who was a master of everything, each character in Gotham Knights has their own set of specific skills.

Robin is the best character for those looking to play stealthy, as his skills allow him to use stealth camouflage and run at full speed without making any noise.

While Red Hood is the powerhouse utilizing powerful melee strikes and doubling down with his dual pistols for long-range damage, he’s also the only character who can grab big brutes and utilize grapple attacks.

This doesn’t mean that the other characters can’t pull off stealth. It’s that some characters are better equipped for it than others.

Skills And Abilities Make Each Character Unique

Each member has a skill tree in which they can unlock new skills and passive abilities. There are three trees you can choose to progress from, and each one allows you to build your character to your liking.

Nightwing is an acrobat, so his skills utilize this aspect of his character providing skills that allow him to pull off multiple aerial attacks bouncing from one enemy to another.

Nightwing also acts as the healer in the game, allowing him to revive teammates from long range by shooting a dart at them and creating a healing circle called a Nexus that heals teammates and damages enemies in its field.

As I mentioned, each character is unique, and everyone should find at least one character that fits their play style.

Customize Your Hero How You See Fit

Crafting and gear play a big role in keeping you fighting crime in Gotham. You’ll earn crafting material and blueprints for new suits, melee, and long-range weapons as you defeat enemies and complete missions and objectives.

A variety of suits can be crafted from various iterations of comics, and fans will recognize a lot of these, from more recent ones like the “Metal” suits from Dark Nights: Metal to older suits from Year One.

You can customize the color pallet of your suits and change the cowl, symbol, gloves, and boots. It’s not as robust as DC Universe Online, but it allows you to have some unique-looking characters.

Simple Crafting That Utilizes Too Many Different Resources

When it comes to crafting, there isn’t anything complicated, and crafting materials seem to be plentiful. Each piece of equipment has your standard power level, defence, and attack, but they also have elements attached to them.

Suits will resist specific elements, while weapons will inflict elemental damage. When striking foes, you’ll inflict small elemental damage, and the effects of some skills will even change to showcase the element in effect.

You can also equip mods to gear that allows it to give you an even bigger power boost, and some can even add passive stats like critical damage.

I should mention that I never had problems running out of materials for most of the game. Even when I got to the end, I had so much material I didn’t understand the point of having so much and the different varieties of materials.

Smooth Flowing Combat Is Simple And Satisfying

Like in the Arkham franchise, combat in Gotham Knights shines. Though it’s a lot simpler now, it’s still a joy, with the developer taking elements from the Arkham games and building and molding them into a more RPG style affair for what WB were aiming for.

You can still jump and glide easily from enemy to many, but the combat moves a tad slower this time. Combat now feels more like Spider-Man rather than Arkham, providing more fluid movement around the battlefield with dodges and acrobatics.

You don’t have a counter to enemies anymore. When enemies attack, you’ll see their attack prompt as you normally would, but everyone dodges the attack instead of counter-attacking.

Enemy Variety Will Have You Constantly Changing Your Tactics

Enemies now have a health bar and attack damage pops when you strike them. There is also a variety of enemies from different gangs.

Regulators are goons that work for Mr. Freeze and utilize unique ice ability’s to freeze your movements, and some of the brutes will even create ice fields around them after striking the ground to prevent you from attacking them.

The Court of Owls, on the other hand, utilize Talens. These creepy enemies dodge all attacks until you can stun them with a charged-up long-range attack.

These combinations keep encounters fresh and utilize different combat methods that keep them from getting stale. One thing that I felt was missing from combat was gadgets. I missed shooting the grapple gun at an enemy and pulling them towards me in combat or blowing them up with explosive gel.

There isn’t as much variation when mixing up your attacks. It mostly falls to finding out the enemies’ weaknesses dodging their attack, and then mounting an offense.

Gotham City Has Plenty Of Challenges And Activities To Keep You Occupied

Gotham City is the deadliest city in the DC Comics Universe. Gotham Knights takes that idea and run with it. Gotham is a big place separated into three major districts. You can grapple around the city, ride your Batcycle, or, once unlocked, use each character’s unique gliding ability to fly around the city.

Gotham has a lot going on, from collectables to find, like old Batarangs, to hidden caches that Batman hid in the city. These are all side activities to the main activity in Gotham, fighting crime.

You’ll encounter various criminals pulling off different crimes. Breaking into cars, hacking into terminals and attacking citizens. As you help fight crime and take down gang members, they drop clues that build up a clue meter.

You can also interrogate members of gangs after laying a beat down on them, and these enemies provide information on premeditated crimes.

Premeditated Crimes Come In All Shapes And Sizes

These crimes are the big ones you can stop. After collecting enough information, a premeditated crime appears on the map. These range from bank heists to actual murders and crime scenes to investigate.

The crimes take you to some unique locations hidden in Gotham and some interior locations. Each crime and encounter has optional secondary objectives if you wish to gain extra rewards.

Beware, though, if you fail to stop the criminals or are defeated in battle, you lose crafting material. There are consequences to failure.

Solving Crimes Makes You Feel Like A Detective

Solving murders is my favourite aspect of these crimes. Though they are simple to solve on the world map, they are much more intriguing in the main story. When solving a crime, you must find all the clues and then figure out which of these clues best fits your objective.

One earlier crime scene had me try and figure out how to gain access to a secret room. I had to find any machine that allowed me to input codes and what the code was by examining the environment and finding various numbers that are written on notepads or posters and circled calendar dates.

Once you have all the clues, you have to find out which two go together to give you the answer to solve the crime scene.

Gotham Has Issues, And It’s Not Just The Crime Rate

Gotham is a city stuck in fear, and its citizens do whatever they can to survive. It may not be as populated as Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row, but the citizens of Gotham go about their day trying to survive.

You’ll see people helping change a car tire on the roads and police arresting gang members selling drugs or getting pulled over for traffic violations.

Citizens will even recognize you and run in fear as vigilantes are hunted and hated in this version of Gotham City. These small things add to the city of Gotham and make it feel alive.

There are issues when it comes to traversing the city. Grappling using your grapple gun can be a pain. I constantly grappled with things off-screen, rather than the ledge or rooftop I was aiming at, causing me to go in the wrong direction.

Controls Are Unresponsive During Crucial Moments In Traversal

The other major issue comes when characters crouch on ledges or stand on scaffolding. Most of the time, I moved them to jump off and fall to the ground or try and jump to another rooftop, and they wouldn’t do it.

I would have to move the analogue stick around, constantly tapping the X button until they eventually moved. This becomes a major problem when trying to pull off stealth takedowns, as you can’t get the prompt to pull off the takedown to appear even though you’re right on top of the enemy.

I again have to keep fidgeting around until the prompt appears. This also led to me jumping off ledges and exposing myself to the enemy just because the controls weren’t responding to what I was telling them to do.

Play Through The Entire Gotham Knights Experience With a Friend

In my time with Gotham Knights, I got to play a few hours of co-op, and for the most part, it’s great to go around and patrol the city with other players.

Pulling off cool combat takedowns and having someone with a specific skill set take on specific enemies allowed me to utilize my skill set against the enemies best suited to me. The multiplayer also scales enemies to your level, so the balance isn’t affected.

You can play through the entire game in co-op, your progress gets saved to your game, and you’ll gain your own rewards. I did run into some lag problems, but for the majority of my co-op experience, it was a smooth ride.

Gotham May Not Look The Best, But it Features Great Animations And Voice Work

Visually Gotham Knights isn’t the spectacle I was hoping for. The character models and animations are fantastic, but the world suffers from pop-in issues and draw-distance fog. It’s also not very bright.

The majority of Gotham is fairly dark, with not much illumination. Few areas have bright, bristling lights to show off the metropolitan city.

The best locations are the underground tombs run by the Court of Owls, which feel more like a horror game. These ancient locations feel like those found in Tomb Raider and Uncharted. These were by far my favourite locations to explore.

The voice acting is top-notch, and everyone does a great job. Each actor’s emotion, especially regarding their anger and sadness at Batman’s death, shines. Even with the villains who also feel their kind of sadness for the Dark Knights’ demise.

Gotham Knights is a fun game that delivers on its premise of delivering a fun action-RPG without Batman as its protagonist. I loved playing with various members of the Bat Family and exploring each one’s unique skills and abilities.

Though I had issues with traversing Gotham City, and the lack of combat abilities and skills was disappointing, the variety of enemies to battle, solid co-op mechanics and just the plethora of content on offer kept me coming back for more.

Gotham Knights releases on PlayStation 5 on October 21, 2022

Review code generously provided by PR

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The Final Word

Gotham Knights step out of the shadows of the Dark Knight and provide a breath of fresh air with four unique characters that provide a different approach to protecting Gotham. Gotham Knights' combat may feel stripped down, but it still provides some of the best melee combat on the market. Gotham City has plenty of crimes to solve and challenges to get through. It's just a shame some of its traversals can be so bothersome.