The Gotham Knights cinematic launch trailer just dropped, like a masked vigilante, onto a goon in a dark alleyway. While the visuals and story look great, I’m still not convinced that four bats are better than one.
The trailer introduces each member of the bat family, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, and Redhood. One by one, the trailer shows them out on the backstreets of Gotham’s grimy, neon-lit city, taking down thugs, gangs, and criminals.
But it’s not just their fighting skills that are on display. Each member of the bat family also has their deepest insecurities voiced as they are crusading around the dark city – “sidekick, inadequate, replaceable” are just some of the self-doubts that Robin faces. It’s a nice addition to the cinematic trailer as it showcases how these superheroes and vigilantes are more than just their masks.
This look into each member’s psyche seems like it will be integral to the game’s storytelling. Especially as, spoiler alert, it doesn’t seem like Batman will be beating up any criminals in the Gotham Knights, not from under a gravestone, at least. So I get the feeling that Gotham Knights will see the team of four fight their way through bad guys and their emotions while getting to terms with the loss of Batman.
But the question remains whether introducing four very different heroes and vigilantes works well for a series known to have one figurehead. Can WB Games connect the synergy of characters that have vastly different personalities? I’m not sure, but I think they will still have to rely on Batman for help.
It would be a lie to say that the Gotham Knights game has had a smooth ride. WB Games has made some questionable decisions, – I can’t help but immediately think of the Living the Vida Loca incident.
A few days ago, videogame critic Janet Garcia released Gotham Knights footage showing Batgirl fighting in a prison brawl where, seemingly out of nowhere, a female cover of Living the Vida Loca by Ricky Martin starts to play mid-fight scene. Working well-known music into combat worked brilliantly in Guardians of the Galaxy, but this didn’t land for me in Gotham Knights. Instead of a cool fight scene, I could only see a cheap attempt to pander to a female audience.
I have to tell y’all 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 going on rn. pic.twitter.com/b75lvP6VFmOctober 6, 2022
It’s not just Batgirl who has had a questionable introduction. When I found out that they had given Redhood magic, I was left utterly confused. Redhood is one of my favorite DC characters. The point of his character, like most bat family members, is that he has no superpowers, just impeccable marksmanship, close combat expertise, and of course, a snazzy red helmet. I understand that Redhood was resurrected 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 helpful game mechanic, rather than a natural extension of his character.
It’s not all bad news. The cinematic trailer that was just released is proof of this. The direction of the story looks promising. Each character shown has a famously complicated relationship with Bruce Wayne or Batman, and so exploring this in Gotham Knights may mean we get a better understanding of who these characters are without the shadow of Caped Crusader looming over them.
I just hope WB Games doesn’t try to do too much. Each one of these characters would make an interesting lead for a game set in Gotham. Especially Nightwing and Redhood, who have so much material written about them. But combining four of these characters may muddy the water.
Less is often more, and the Arkham games are a great example of that. You knew where you stood when it came to Batman’s purpose and ethics. But in Gotham Knights, you have stark contrasts. Firstly, Nightwing honors Bruce’s legacy by carrying on his work fighting criminals, while making a name out from under Batman’s shadow. Alternatively, there is Redhood, who is incredibly complicated. As a vigilante he outwardly rejects Batman’s ideals of non-lethal justice, as he has no problem lodging a bullet in someone’s skull. These two alone are so different, it will be interesting to see how WB Games brings each four members of the bat family together in one game.