Following critical acclaim and multiple game of the year awards, Rocksteady is doing something right with their Batman games, something Marvel hasn’t come close to achieving in any of their games of late. Unlike most other superhero titles, Batman: Arkham City and Arkham Asylum have both turned critics into fanboys. From Arkham City’s incredible open world exploring to Arkham Asylum’s inovative Scarecrow levels, Rocksteady has always brought fun and creative ideas to the table. Ever wondered how Rocksteady has been able to pull off this success?
If you answered yes, then you’re in luck! Rocksteady Studios co-founder and game director, Sefton Hill, has decided to share the secret (well not anymore) recipe for how to make an Arkham game.
“We believe it’s our job to entertain,” Sefton said of their basic mission statement, reiterating that the game has to be fun for players first and foremost.
“We didn’t want to have a long tutorial phase where it forces you down a very thin path – that didn’t feel like Batman. But the flipside is that it can feel quite daunting when you first arrive. If you go the wrong way at the start you can go into Penguin’s turf and you’re going to run into guys with guns, and that’s pretty scary when you pick up the game.”
Players can quickly fight themselves in a tough spot at the beginning, facing tougher enemies before unlocking important and often-needed gadgets. Playing the game by following the main story with the occasional side-quest here and there does reward players and does keep challenging them. “We developed combat by introducing new enemy types… it keeps giving you more, it keeps challenging you.”
Hill continues, explaining that what makes Rocksteady’s Batman games stand out is there clear and direct approach to making each element of the game as strong as possible, from navigating the environments, to a gripping narrative and of course, combat, “all [game components] have their own distinct and strong uses.”
“It’s quite interesting; you never see Batman go anywhere. If someone is going to meet him on the roof, he just walks out of the shadows and he’s there. That was really interesting for us, to think: ‘how does he get around? How does he do this without anyone knowing? How do we give the player that kind of empowerment?”
Answering that question while at the same time making players feel powerful, yet abiding by Batman’s limitations is what makes the character and a video game involving him, so compelling. As Hill put it best, “The restraints of the character define the character,” and Batman not being a super-powered being or someone that kills his enemies makes for a unique experience.
The recipe seems simple enough and as seen by Rocksteady’s steady succes, it works. It helps having Warner Bros. Interactive financing the project and not rushing development or forcing in a multiplayer component.
If for some reason you haven’t played either of these games because you were living under a rock or deciding if they were worth spending your hard earned monies on, let their success speak for itself. Take it from us: Batman: Arkham City easily earned a series of nominations for The 2011 Game Rant Video Game Awards.
Do you think that Rocksteady should stick to this recipe and keep cranking out Batman games, with the next game potentially set in Gotham? Should they apply it to a new/different IP like TMNT?
Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Asylum are available now for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.