Batman games have always taken place in Gotham. However, setting a game in the past could reinvigorate the series by offering something new.
Batman is one of DC’s greatest heroes and has been in numerous video games over the years. His adventures in Gotham have been well documented, but the character has traveled further than most. Batman has been thrust into the past on more than one occasion, either literally or in one of the Elseworld stories. These journeys through history could be the perfect locations for the next Batman game.
While Batman games have always been popular, they follow a similar trend: there is a threat to Gotham, and Batman must counter it with his gadgets and skills. However, while Gotham has changed somewhat in each game, it generally follows a similar design that combines gothic architecture with glittering skyscrapers. While aesthetically interesting, this can get repetitive when used constantly with nothing else to break it up. Plus, the past offers more than just a change in location for players.
One of Batman’s greatest strengths is his access to technology and ability to use it to suit the situation. How he acquired these tools varies, but regardless, placing Batman in the past would remove this option and force him to adapt to situations on the fly. This would change the typical depiction of Batman as always being in control and would allow players to find new ways to problem solve. It would also be visually impressive to see some of Batman’s well-known gadgets in a different format. For instance, a Batman based in the Victorian era would have gadgets that reflect the time. This serves as both a limitation and a push to focus on his physical and mental abilities.
Setting a game at a different point in history would also give the developers a chance to change the appearance of iconic characters. Batman Ninja redesigned many of Batman’s rogues to fit into a samurai world. Meanwhile, Gotham by Gaslight changed the appearances, personalities and histories of characters like Poison Ivy to fit into that timeline. Batman’s rogues are one the best parts of the franchises, and their redesigns are often exciting for fans. After all, while the Joker will always be an unrepentant, sadistic murderer, his reasons and methods are far more fluid.
Changing the characters in a way that’s still true to who they are lets a game surprise long-time fans in a positive way. Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series was a massive success that redesigned many of the characters to give them a more gritty appearance. However, the next game should go even further in its attempt to surprise fans — and placing Batman in the past would do just that.
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