Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate PS Vita review – deserving of a very firm bat-slap
“Probably the most frustrating experience I’ve ever had”, might not be the box quote Warner Brothers are looking for but it sums up my time with Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate on PS Vita. An infuriating collection of hours spent trying simply to get from one point to another in a space that quite possibly invents extra dimensions.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate PS Vita review
The problem is the 2.5D set up and the map. The game effectively takes the Batman Arkham experience and puts it in a two dimensional side scrolling world. Something it technically achieves well. The problems arise from two factors: firstly, while you can only move Batman sideways that motion can actually take him in and out of the screen. Secondly, the map you use to navigate is viewed from a top down angle. Combine the two and it bends space time in a way that leaves you with a face (and brain) like the ‘I can see forever’ cat.
At one point I spent the best part of 20 minutes circling a corridor I needed to access. The map said I was right on it but every attempt to reach it involved corners so that every location check put me past it, in front of it, on it – anywhere but actually in it.
Compounding the issue is the fact that certain elements in the game can only be interacted with once you’ve scanned them (remaining invisible and inert until you do) and other stuff simply isn’t visually distinct enough to see. I got lost at one point because I didn’t scan a thing I need to use the Batclaw on. Another time because an open vent was impossible to distinguish on a set of crates in an otherwise dead end.
“If you want a Metroidvania experience on
Vita get the excellent Guacamelee instead”
It’s a shame because mechanically there’s potential. If you can master the navigation then the rest of the game is well presented – there are some lovely motion comic cut scenes linking it all together and some good challenges elsewhere. The combat really works too. It’s one of the nicer surprises how well it mirrors the reactive flow of the main game’s counters and reversals. In both small doses and areas the gameplay delivers an interesting take on the Arkham world. It’s just a nightmare to get anywhere. Something that’s not helped by the gear-gated progression structure essentially being the entire game design. Almost every objective involves going to get the magic thing you need to reach a new area. This has its moments but it’s barely worth the patience needed to find them, or anything else. If you want a Metroidvania experience on Vita then get the excellent Guacamelee instead.