Playing With Imagination: Thoughts on Batman: Arkham VR (And PSVR overall)

Playing With Imagination is a series where I talk about video game stories and plots. Many video games have incredible stories and are often overlooked in our society. Today, I talk about Batman: Arkham VR from Rocksteady. I also talk about the PlayStation VR and discuss the concept in general.


I was going to talk about a Nintendo Switch game, but I haven’t gotten far enough into it to talk about it, so instead, I have a new system (kinda). Recently, I bit the bullet and got myself a Playstation VR. I had an interest in PSVR (and VR in general) for a while and I wasn’t sure which ones to get. There’s the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and Samsung VR and whatnot, but I like a lot of Playstation stuff, so I have a VR headset to mess around with. Before we begin with the main game review, I figured I’d talk a bit about the VR itself and then move on to the game review itself.

So let’s jump into the many worlds of virtual reality.

My experiences with the PlayStation VR.

Imagine buying a shiny new PSVR headset and you set it up for the first time. After dealing with all of the cords and peripheral nonsense, you put in the one VR game you got as to experiment with, install it, and then.
You put on the headset. At first, it seems like a movie theater, because there’s a screen in front of you that might as well be at an IMAX theater. But then…you set things up with calibration and at last, a massive world opens before your eyes. All around you, a strange, 3D world is formed. You might see yourself in your 3D body, or you might look into a mirror that matches your movements one to one. Whatever the case, you’re now in whatever world you’re put in.
This was my first experience with these VR headsets, and I was amazed. It truly feels like you’re in another world. Granted, there will be times you’re thrown out of it (like bending down too far, or your parents yelling at you), but for the most part, it almost feels lifelike.
And also, it’s video gaming in first person only. It’s not Ready Player One or Sword Art Online levels yet, but one day, if this catches on, it’ll be the future of gaming. I think this is the next step for us. This could be the next iPhone.
Even now, there are things that could be worked out, but that’ll come with age. I know people are skeptical about how accurate this is, but it’s hard without experiencing it yourself. I was a skeptic once, but now I see the potential. The idea that worlds and realities could come to fruition. Given a long enough time, we could be in our own virtual worlds.
Okay, I think that’s enough dreaming. The hardware itself is snug, but it can be a little heavy. It’s a thick pair of goggles, after all. And this sort of technology is still new. The hardware is a bit messy to set up. There’s a separate box, with two HDMI ports, one going into the TV and the other going into the PS4, it’s own AC adapter, and with my set up, there’s nowhere to put it.
I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt for now, but I think they could have thought this through a bit harder. Still, the games are fun. I’ve tried a few of them out, so I’ll go through some.

Disclaimer: That’s not a big bunny. You’re his height.

Invasion!, Anywhere VR, and others

Obviously, I tried Batman VR first, but I wanted to go through a few others of note. The first was Invasion! It’s not a game, but a short film where you play the role of an innocent rabbit that teams up with another of your rabbit friends to take down aliens set to destroy the earth.
This is the kind of stuff I want to see more of. Not only being a human but being an animal. I’ve discussed transformation and being animals in the past, but I can live like that in VR. This is why I say it has the potential for interesting game ideas. You can be anything you want and explore whole new worlds. How about not just watching a movie, but being in one. You can be the star of someone else’s film. Think Hardcore Henry, but actually being in it and acting out the roles yourself instead of an actor doing it for you.

Now, I couldn’t really do too much (I can’t move while the movie is playing, which was a bummer), but seeing a rabbit that close was a bit jarring. I figure this is what rabbits see, and it almost felt like he was giant for a moment. Perhaps being so small, bunnies are used to it, but I long for that to happen in reality. I’ll take VR for now. It feels real enough. 🙂
It’s also a cute short as well. I really felt like getting into character and pretending to be a bunny, since your friend makes all sorts of gestures to see how you act. It’ll play the same film if you just stand there and watch, but where’s the fun in that? You’re IN THE FILM, GUYS! Your nose can twitch, you can sniff each other, and best of all, no one will judge you for it.

Okay, maybe if you live with others and they happen to barge in on you, but still…

The next VR experience is AnywhereVR. It’s a real-life simulator where you explore the region of Japan, where Sony is based. Now, considering it’s ANYWHERE VR, I assumed you could go, well, ANYWHERE. But it’s nice to see parts of Japan like Mt. Fuji and what not. There is a DLC pack where you can buy more locales, such as a temple, the city, and so on. It’s a neat experience and gives a lot of room for potential ideas, like being at major sporting events, or VR Vacations (not as fun as a real vacation, but you wouldn’t have to break the bank).
I would like to explore so many other places. Think of going somewhere you’ve always wanted. The Bahamas. Paris. London. The Sahara Desert. Antarctica. So many places to explore. So many cultures to experience. I see a good possibility if this is done right. This is only testing the waters, though. And speaking of testing the waters.


Being Batman In Gotham City

It’s time to be BATMAN!

Put on that cape, because we’re solving a murder mystery as Batman. From the guys who made the Batman: Arkham series brings their latest venture on the Playstation VR. Here, Nightwing and Robin have vanished, but worse is that as you hunt down Nightwing, someone managed to kill him. It’s up to you to solve mysteries and fight crime as BATMAN!
This was my first VR game, and seeing the world from so high up was mind-blowing. You have a great view of Gotham and you can look in all directions. It truly feels like you’re BATMAN!
From there, the game becomes a bit of a murder mystery, where you use your VR skills to find out who was responsible for killing Nightwing and bring them to justice. And while it was fun searching for clues and pretending to be BATMAN! I felt this could have been longer.
I mean, sure, VR can give you motion sickness (especially staring so close to what’s essentially a screen), but it’s really short. There are three acts. The Batcave, figuring out who killed Nightwing, and saving Robin. and I’d guess, given enough time, it can be done in an hour or so. There is a bonus game where you solve the Riddler’s puzzle to unlock bonuses, but I felt the experience was way too short and felt more like a tech demo than an actual game.
Which is a bit disappointing when you think of it. The game looks gorgeous and is very real when it comes to its source material. You feel like you’re BATMAN! But regardless, you’re mostly playing detective and not being the bad guy. I want to beat people up and swing from rooftops. I want to punch the Joker in the face (I’ll get to him in a moment, cause…man…) and whack the Penguin upside the head.
I mean, the detective part was fun and fit the VR mentality, and you can always play the main Arkham games and beat people up there, but I AM BATMAN! This would have been perfect. Oh well, maybe next time.
Before we end it, I do want to spoil the ending, considering it was so short. Obviously, The Joker is behind all of this and this is where the VR shines. you find him in, where else, Arkham Asylum, and through unknown means, he tricks you into this hallucination that is truly a wild ride.
I can’t explain it because it must be seen, but you will be scared. Considering Mark Hamill does the Joker (Best Joker, in any case) truly gives him this psychopathic feel. If you have a fear of clowns, you might want to avoid this one, cause it WILL scar you. Not even joking. Considering how I felt like I was there to begin with, being trapped in isolation while the Joker laughs at my inevitable demise truly gave a fright. This deserved the M rating, honestly, just for that scene.
But while I felt I could have been BATMAN! longer, I did enjoy this for what it was, a good taste into what VR can truly do. I’d probably give this a try if you want a taste of true VR and of course, living the bat life in Gotham City.

Final Thoughts

I have four VR games so far. Including Batman, I have Moss, Doom VFR (I got the bundle, obviously) and Starblood Arena. I might review Moss at a later date, but I want to say I love the VR experience. If you’re on the fence, I’d say give it a go. If VR isn’t for you, that’s fine. Just give it a try and see the amazing reality for yourself.

That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.

If you have any suggestions for future topics and reviews, hit me up on my social media channels and let me know your thoughts. I always read the feedback, even if I don’t respond. Your feedback is what keeps me going, so thank you for supporting me.
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My Japanese Mythology-inspired short story, Do Not Stare Into The Eyes Of A Kitsune, is finally available. You can buy it on Amazon or wherever ebooks are sold. Help a debut author make his debut worth it.
My next work will be titled “City of Kaiju,” a tale about an unlikely alliance between a young girl and her gigantic dog-dragon monster, as they survive chaos and disaster from a gigantic kaiju invasion. Part of a new Short Novel initiative, intended to fill in the gap between releases. Set for release within the Fall 2018/Winter 2019 period. Read more about it here.

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