The Gotham Knights cinematic launch trailer just dropped like a masked vigilante on a goon in a dark alley. 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 down the backstreets of Gotham’s dingy, 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 as they traverse the dark city – “sidekick, inadequate, expendable” are just some of the self-doubts Robin faces. It’s a nice addition to the cinematic trailer because it shows how these superheroes and vigilantes are more than just their masks.
This look into each member’s psyche seems to be an integral part of the game’s story. Mainly because, spoiler alert, it doesn’t look like Batman will beat up criminals in the Gotham Knights, at least not from under a tombstone. So I get a feeling that Gotham Knights will see the team of four fight through bad guys and their emotions as they come 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 with 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 made some questionable decisions, – I immediately think of the Living the Vida Loca incident.
A few days ago, video game critic Janet Garcia released Gotham Knights footage showing Batgirl fighting in a prison fight where, seemingly out of nowhere, a female cover of Ricky Martin’s Living the Vida Loca starts playing midway through the fight scene. Working with familiar music in battle worked great in Guardians of the Galaxy, but this didn’t end up in Gotham Knights for me. Instead of a cool fight scene, all I saw was a cheap attempt at giving in to a female audience.
I have to tell you that during my Gotham Knights preview Living la Vida Loca started playing and that was by far the weakest moment of my session. My jaw dropped when it started playing and I was like wtf is going on. 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 completely confused. Redhood is one of my favorite DC characters. The point of his character, like most members of the bat family, is that he has no superpowers, just impeccable marksmanship, close combat expertise, and of course a snazzy red helmet. I understand that Redhood has risen from the dead in the comics, so reality may 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 its character.
It’s not all bad news. The just released movie trailer is proof of that. The direction of the story looks promising. Each character shown has a famously complicated relationship with either Bruce Wayne or Batman, and so exploring this in Gotham Knights might give us a better understanding of who these characters are without the shadow of Caped Crusader looming over them.
I just hope WB Games isn’t trying to do too much. Each of these characters would play an interesting lead role in a game set in Gotham. Especially Nightwing and Redhood, who have written so much material about them. But combining four of these characters can make the water muddy.
Less is often more, and the Arkham games are a good example of this. You knew where you stood when it came to Batman’s purpose and ethics. But in Gotham Knights you have strong contrasts. First, Nightwing honors Bruce’s legacy by continuing his work in the fight against criminals, while making a name for himself under the shadow of Batman. Alternatively, there’s Redhood, which is incredibly complicated. As a vigilante, he outwardly rejects Batman’s ideals of non-lethal justice, as he has no problem putting a bullet in someone’s skull. These two alone are so different, it will be interesting to see how WB Games each bring four members of the bat family together in one game.