Late to the Game: PlayStation 4 VR: Batman: Arkham VR (2016)

With the launch of the highly anticipated PlayStation VR in October, the fledgling system was going to need at least one killer app. I believe they have this in developer Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham VR. Let's be honest here--who in the hell has not daydreamed about being The Dark Knight at least once in their lives?!

Rocksteady has never disappointed in the storytelling arena and they craft a great narrative here as well. The story follows Batman's journey in trying to discover the whereabouts of Nightwing, who has recently gone missing. This is definitely not an action game so gamers expecting that might be a little bored. It's is more along the lines of an interactive detective game with some light puzzle elements, but it's so well written and crafted that it becomes incredibly engrossing. Actually being in the game world as opposed to being a outside observer is a completely new experience for me. The first time I took the elevator down to the Batcave and I could physically feel the sensation of going down was mind-blowing.

Batman: Arkham VR can be played while standing or sitting and uses either the DS4 controller or the Move controllers. I recommend playing while standing with the Move controllers for the best and most immersive experience. Each Move controller represents Batman's right and left hands respectively and the movement is pretty much one-for-one. For the most part I found the control to be spot on, but this was after some trial-and-error with setting up my Playstation VR camera and the room setup. Instead of freely moving around the game world you can turn and use your grappling hook to "teleport" from area to area. Since this is mostly a puzzle/adventure game this doesn't feel too limiting.

The graphics are amazing and the environments as well as all the objects you interact with have a lot of attention to detail.  PlayStation VR can handle 1080p games on its 920 x RGB x 1080 OLED display at either 90Hz or at 120Hz depending on the VR game. This sounds great on paper, but keep in mind this resolution is split between both eyes separately. The resulting resolution is about 720p so the graphics in these games tend to look a bit more blurry than gamers are used to. Rocksteady was still able to provide a beautiful VR world for gamers to play in though. The "presence" (VR speak for perception of being physically present in a non-physical world) factor is quite high in this game due to the gorgeous atmosphere and story beats.

Not to be overlooked, the sound design and music in Batman: Arkham VR is excellent and well implemented. You can use your regular sound system but it really shines with a pair of good headphones because you can hear the 3D audio better. The music is moody and foreboding and the voice acting is great as well. Kevin Conroy is back as Batman and Mark Hamill reprises his role as the Joker.

The main negatives for this game are the length and some occasional control issues. The average player will probably finish the game in around two hours which is extremely short. After you beat the game it does unlock some extra content however, in the form of a Riddler side quest. After it's all said and done it will take about 3-4 hours to 100% the game and with the game retailing at $19.99, players will have to decide if that price is worth it. Those three hours are amazing though, an I am a proponent of quality over quantity myself. If you are looking for a game to break in your PlayStation VR, I cannot recommend Batman: Arkham VR enough.


-Michelle Kisner