The past few years in the superhero/comic book genre of games have seen some major breakthroughs, with the most critical and financial success coming to Batman. So it's no surprise to hear that in 2009, a game adaptation of the DC Comics one-shot Gotham By Gaslight was being tentatively pitched around the industry. Thanks to a recently uncovered video of prototype gameplay and animation, fans can see how faithfully the game was sticking to the source material.
We first heard of the project's existence when a batch of concept artwork showed how the 19th-century Gotham City of the comicmight have looked if the game had become a reality. The steampunk-inspired combination of clockwork machinery and traditional Bat-gadgets would have accompanied Bruce Wayne on his quest to track down Jack the Ripper, if the game had ever managed to get off the ground before being abandoned.
A Batman game concept around 2009 would have drawn more than a little attention thanks to Rocksteady's Arkham Asylum, but with the development studio at the helm most famous for the MechWarrior series, publisher doubts would have been understandable. Thanks to Siliconera a video demonstration of what Gotham By Gaslight's gameplay would have looked like is available for all to see, and may have Bat-fans regretting its cancellation even more:
It would be a stretch to call this gameplay revolutionary (even if those cape physics are immaculate) since it seems to blend the Batman aesthetic of the Arkham series with the same metropoitan environments seen in Assassin's Creed. The character design of the cloak and equipment seem particularly faithful to the Elseworlds comic book, so it's a real shame that more of the world wasn't explored in greater detail. If the story and tone of the turn-of-the-century Batman mystery was treated with even a bit of the same reverence that Rocksteady Studios seems committed to, Gotham By Gaslight could have been something special.
We're still eagerly awaiting news on whether or not another Arkham title is on the way, and if so, in what world it will take place. If nothing else these details prove that the Batman universe is large enough for more than one franchise, and hopefully this developer tendency to remain faithful to the comic books becomes a lasting trend.
Of course, there is the outside chance that this renewed interest in the project could give it new life, but for now we're left to simply wonder what might have been.
What do you think of the sample video of Gotham By Gaslight? Does it seem to offer something new, or just another third-person open world game that was never realized?
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