Back in the 2000s, superhero games were, for the most part, only poor adaptations of successful superhero blockbusters that were gaining traction at the time. However, there was one 2009 game that truly stood out, and it was Batman: Arkham Asylum.
In this article, we’ll be going over the immensely successful franchise started by the aforementioned game, providing a brief overview of each entry in the franchise.
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The Main Series
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Release date: August 25, 2009
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows, macOS
As mentioned above, Batman: Arkham Asylum was the first game in the series which kicked everything off.
After the titular hero captures his most recognizable foe, the Joker, and brings him to the Arkham Asylum, it doesn’t take long until things go sour. Joker breaks free and soon enough, with the help of some other recognizable villains and Arkham inmates, he takes control of the facility and it is up to Batman to resolve the situation.
Gameplay-wise, the game blends simple but fast and immensely satisfying combat with well-executed stealth sections, and the player has an array of gadgets at their disposal, allowing them to approach various encounters from several different angles. Furthermore, the environments of the Asylum are highly detailed, and the various trophies and riddles left by Riddler truly make the location come alive.
Batman: Arkham Asylum was originally released in 2009 for the PS3, the Xbox 360, and Windows. It was ported to macOS in 2011, and a remastered version of the game was released for the PS4 and the Xbox One in 2016.
Batman: Arkham City
Release date: October 18, 2011
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Windows, macOS
After the immense success and critical acclaim of Arkham Asylum, it didn’t take long for a sequel to come out, and so Batman: Arkham City arrived to the PC and consoles in 2011.
Following the events of Arkham Asylum, a portion of Gotham City gets turned into Arkham City – a chaotic prison run by gangs, guarded by armed mercenaries, and supervised by Dr. Hugo Strange. After Bruce Wayne is captured and thrown into Arkham City by Strange, he quickly adopts his alter ego and sets out on yet another tour through a prison descended into anarchy.
Arkham City sees the return of many familiar characters but also introduces several new ones, including Catwoman who is actually a playable character controlled at several points in the story. While Batman gets some new gadgets, Catwoman is more mobile and can reach areas that Batman can’t, but apart from that, the gameplay mechanics remain mostly the same. Furthermore, despite Arkham City’s open world being noticeably larger than that of Arkham Asylum, it is no less detailed and there are still plenty well-designed interiors to explore, so nothing is lost in this excellent sequel.
The game was initially released for the PS3, the Xbox 360, and Windows in 2011, it was ported to the Wii U and macOS in 2012, and a remastered version of the game was released for the PS4 and the Xbox One in 2016.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Release date: October 25, 2013
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U Windows
The third entry in the series was not a sequel but a prequel, that much can be inferred from the title alone – Batman: Arkham Origins.
The game shows the player an earlier part in Batman’s career, following a younger and less experienced Bruce Wayne on his nighttime outings. After Black Mask, the game’s apparent main villain, takes note of Batman’s interventions, he puts a massive 50-million-dollar bounty on his head. Soon enough, the less-experienced Dark Knight finds himself in over his head, having to face several professional assassins who may very well be out of his league.
In terms of gameplay, the game remains more or less the same as the previous two titles: combat encounters, stealth encounters, puzzles, trophies, and various gadgets to use. However, the formula did get stale after two games, and the uninspired boss fights and lackluster environment design don’t exactly help the matter, leaving Origins as a rather weak link in the series.
Arkham Origins was released only for the PS3, the Xbox 360, the Wii U, and Windows, never receiving a macOS port or an 8th-gen console remaster.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Release date: June 23, 2015
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
The final major release in the main series (for now) was the somewhat controversial Batman: Arkham Knight.
The story picks up after the events of Arkham City, and this time, moving the action from Arkham City to the very streets of Gotham. The two main villains of the fourth game are Scarecrow and the titular Arkham Knight who serves as a sort of a dark reflection of Batman. This time, the game takes place on a larger portion of Gotham City’s territory which was evacuated due to the threat of Scarecrow’s fear gas.
Again, the gameplay remains largely unchanged but is more streamlined, and the one major new addition is the Batmobile which the player can use for both transport and combat, though the unskippable Batmobile sections can get tiresome after a while.
The game was originally released only for the PS4, the Xbox One, and Windows, though the Windows version faced some criticism due to terrible performance at launch.
Batman: Arkham City Lockdown
Release date: December 7, 2011
Platforms: iOS, Android
Batman: Arkham City Lockdown was a mobile game released soon after Arkham City. It focused solely on combat and featured many of the characters already seen in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t offer much in terms of story and was a rather brief experience.
It was originally released for iOS in 2011 some two weeks after Arkham City and it only arrived to Android devices in June of 2013. It has since been removed from both the App Store and the Play Store.
Batman: Arkham Origins (Mobile)
Release date: October 16, 2013
Platforms: iOS, Android
Just like Lockdown accompanied the release of Arkham City, so did the mobile version of Arkham Origins accompany the main game. Only this time, the mobile game was actually released before the main title. And much like Lockdown, it was a limited arcade experience, offering little in terms of story or variety.
It made its debut on iOS in 2013 and was brought to Android in July 2014, but like Lockdown, it has since been removed from both Apple’s and Google’s app stores.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate
Release date: October 25, 2013
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Windows, 3DS, PlayStation Vita
Also released alongside Arkham Origins, Arkham Origins Blackgate is a side-scrolling game developed primarily for handheld consoles. Even though it is a 2.5D game and not a 3D game, the mechanics of the main series are translated surprisingly well into the new format, featuring both fluid combat and well-executed stealth sequences. However, many felt that Blackgate was simply a watered-down handheld version of Arkham Origins with limited gameplay and repetitive level design, so the reception wasn’t stellar.
The game was originally released only for the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita but was also ported to the PS3, the Xbox 360, the Wii U, and Windows in 2014.
Batman: Arkham Underworld
Release date: July 14, 2016
Platforms: iOS, Android
Batman: Arkham Underworld was a short-lived mobile strategy game that actually put the player in the shoes of Gotham’s famous criminals, as opposed to all the other games that feature Batman as the main protagonist.
It was released for both iOS and Android in 2016 but was quickly pulled from both the App Store and the Play Store the following year.
Batman: Arkham VR
Release date: October 11, 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
Batman: Arkham VR is an adventure game that is set between Arkham City and Arkham Knight in the series’ timeline. It features no combat whatsoever, focusing instead on puzzles and exploration, following Batman’s investigation into the disappearances of Nightwing and Robin, the two of whom had gone missing in the aftermath of the events that took place in Arkham City in the second game.
The game was initially released as a PlayStation VR title but was also released for Windows in 2017.
The Final Word
And there you have it, all the Batman Arkham games released thus far! Rumors are still floating around regarding the next entry in the franchise and we’ll be updating this article as new games come out. In the case that we missed something or made any mistakes, feel free to let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to correct the error as soon as possible.