When people think of the Batman: Arkham series, they immediately think of either Asylum, City or Knight. Origins, however, isn’t quite so popular. I have played through it several times (as well as the DLC), and I find that this game has been the victim of an injustice. This is what I would like to show you today.
First of all, I would like to take this as an opportunity to express my amazement at how great the Batman: Arkham series is. It is a wonderful experience that you should try out if you like fighting games, stealth games, superhero games or anything of the sort. The thing is that making a good game is not always very easy, and that’s why when a game company makes a sequel to a great game it must answer to great expectations. That’s the problem Origins faced. The game was great by normal game standards, but not by Batman: Arkham standards. Being the third in the series, this game was well received in general but players were disappointed to see it lacking behind its superior prequels. Then, when Arkham Knight came along to redeem it, Origins was forgotten in the background.
A problem many people have with Origins is the fact that it brought nothing new to the game, or at least nothing that was new in terms of game mechanics (the glue grenade was technically new, but did the exact same thing as the ice grenade from City). Critics complained that this made the game feel repetitive and unoriginal. In a way, I can understand that. The Batman: Arkham series is based on generally the same combat system which, while it is fun, requires that each new title add some extra features to balance it out. That’s one of the things Origins got wrong: it didn’t bring anything in to compensate.
However, the game still does a lot right. Two things in particular stood out to me: the story and the boss battles. I know that this is something the other games do well also, but that is exactly why I find it unfair that Origins got penalized. The story, for starters, is very well written and, as some critics have claimed themselves, would make a great movie with the proper modifications and screen writing. It also really emphasizes Batman’s relationship with the Joker in a great way, really making us feel the connection between the two. As for the boss battles, they are all incredibly varied and creative, and due to the story’s narrative don’t feel random at all. I particularly like the battle against Deathstroke which, while it is challenging (and will require you to die quite a lot before you get the hang of it), feels rewarding to beat and makes the player feel like they’re fighting an alternate Batman. The boss battle in Origins also serve as tutorials in a way. Each one helps the player develop a certain skill they need to acquire in the game: Deathstroke teaches you (very harshly) to block; Firefly teaches you to dodge; Copperhead teaches you to fight several enemies at once…etc.
The Cold, Cold Heart DLC is interesting. It finds a very creative way to change the game a little to fit the story, but without really affecting the mechanics themselves. Speaking of the story, it is practically better than the actual main storyline. The reveal about Mr. Freeze’s motives, without actually spoiling anything, blew me away. It was completely unexpected and took me completely by surprise. The DLC also adds new stuff to the game like new weapons for your enemies (not telling you any more), which catch you off guard at first and require you to find ways of avoiding them. Honestly, the DLC is even better than the main game, which is pretty good as it is. If you’re going to play the game, make sure not to miss out on Cold, Cold Heart.
In conclusion, I think this game is much better than people say it is. Not only does it stay true to the series’ general idea, it tries to give the player a reason to like it and want to play it on New Game Plus and I Am The Night (hardcore) modes. I really think you should try; for while I cannot promise you will like it more than the other three, you will certainly like it anyway.