Continuing with the “I want to relax a few days because I don’t have to teach” theme of the week, my second purchase from the Winter Steam Sale was Batman: Arkham Asylum: Game of the Year edition. I’m sticking to games that are highly acclaimed, came out a few years ago, and were on sale cheap on Steam as a way to stave off boredom.

Way back in university, one of the game series I actually beat to completion was Tomb Raider. Batman: Arkham Asylum is made by Eidos (which has been purchased by Square Enix), makes of Tomb Raider, and it shows. The game takes place in the same “behind the shoulder” perspective which a more intelligent camera that shows the action as you navigate and fight.

This is licensed content that throws all the rogue’s gallery from the Batman comics into the game with a semi-coherent plot about The Joker returning to the titular Arkham Asylum island and throwing everything into chaos. The things Batman is tasked with to stop The Joker from taking over the island keep you busy doing side jobs and as you complete the different tasks it pushes the plot forward so that you meet new villains.

There are some really well done models, and the atmosphere is dark and twisted. The setting is a bit goofy, with lots of large air vents and locked doors that require a “Metroid/Castlevania” style of exploration where you’ll be granted new Bat-gear and that allows you to access new areas, to unlock new things. You’ll usually be presented with multiple ways to approach a problem, but some of the annoying “boss battles” have a “fail until you do it THIS WAY” aspect to them that I strongly dislike.

The combat is satisfying, as you’ll be taking down a dozen people, fighting like a total bad ass, and doing combos and counter moves that look bone crushing. The boss fights are the sadly typical “Do something three times to win” trope, where you’ll see slightly different patterns but a generally increasing difficulty until you trigger the right sequence of events to win. There are also lots of things to find, like collectible interviews about the different characters, models, game modes, and “clues” about the origin of the island. That’s an OCD player’s trap I no longer fall for. 100% completion? Who has the time?!

I’m close to 8 hours into the game, which is a bit more than I was hoping to do in the past few days. That’s way more than I usually spend “just gaming”, other than when I can get a game of M:TG with some friends in person. While I might not be teaching, I do still have things I could be doing that would be better than playing Batman all day, but it was really snowy today and I didn’t have any real reason to go outside other than to make a giant snowman with my daughter.