Batman VR is fucking amazing. Those were the words I used when I pulled the PS VR headset off my scalp when I finished, and those are the words that keep coming to mind when I think back to the 15 minutes I spent under the cowl. It’s the ultimate Batman wish fulfillment – and you’ll never throw a single punch.
My experience was split into two separate demos. The first acted as a tutorial for how the controls work, and used a sequence that’s typically glossed over in a snappy montage – putting on the Batsuit. Alfred walks up to my right and hands me a key. I use it to open the piano in front of me and use the Move controllers to poke a few keys. The piano moves away with a hydraulic hiss, the floor opens below me, and I descend into the Batcave. The elevator stops, and I methodically put on my suit, tighten my gloves, then grab the helmet and place it over my head.
I test out my gadgets. First the grapnel gun – shoot it at a target to launch towards it. I look down at my utility belt and holster the gun. I grab the forensic scanner, perform a quick test, and do the same. I grab the Batarang and throw it at a target, releasing the trigger on the move controller at the end of my throw. Once I’m all done, a panel appears in front of my face – the reflection not showing my own face, but Batman’s. It feels… weird, but I can’t help but grin.
The elevator continues down, deeper into the Batcave (and I’m looking around me, glancing at the little details on the concrete and rock walls of this elevator shaft), finally stopping at the bottom in front of a desk filled with a half-dozen little objects. A poker card here, a photograph there – is that a grapnel point off in the distance to the right? – but then, the demo ends, and I’m whisked back to the menu to begin my second demo.
Now, Nightwing is dead, and I’m investigating the scene of the crime. I glance at my surroundings, tapping the move button to warp closer to Nightwing’s body, slumped on the ground in an alleyway (warping may mean less range of movement, but it also means less motion sickness, so I’ll take it). My job here is to figure out how Nightwing sustained his fatal injuries, so I grab my forensic scanner, and begin scrubbing through a virtual representation of the fight between Nightwing and his assailant by twisting the controller left or right. The fight unfolds in front of me, a beautifully choreographed sequence that constantly shifts in the space in front and around me. The VR representation of the suspect assaults Nightwing with a barrage of punches, eventually ending up near the dumpster behind me, then swinging back around to the front. Along the way, I’m scanning each major moment of impact to register it in my detective vision.
It’s here that Nightwing tries to escape by grapnelling up the side of the building. His attacker throws something at him at the apex of his leap, and he crashes back to the bottom, hitting the railing on the way. The dev takes a minute to tell me that I should warp up to the balcony for a better look, so I do. I pause the video right when Nightwing hits the railing, and take a few moments to crane my neck around, looking at his face, the point of impact, the effects on the environment. It’s an incredible feeling, to be able to absorb all of this as if I were actually standing there.
Once I’ve found all of his injuries, Batman notices that a witness was nearby. I scan a handprint on the wall, which belongs to a low-level gang member of The Penguin’s army, so it’s time to go pay him a visit. I pull out my grapnel gun and zip up into Batwing – and the demo ends.
That’s Batman: Arkham VR – an extended detective story as the Caped Crusader focusing on brains over brawn. And it’s an absolute blast. If WB can take this concept and flesh it out enough to last a few hours, PS VR might have its first must-own title in October.