Earlier this week we reviewed the VRSE Batman VR headset and, well, we’ll let the article speak for itself. The shoddy device is only one part of the package, though; it also comes with an exclusive new Batman VR game that can only be activated by pairing the motion controller to your smartphone. After that you’re free to place the phone in any other mobile headset to enjoy the game. But should you?
No, not really.
In fairness to VRSE Batman, it does try to do everything that Batman: Arkham VR didn’t. In fact, it’s even closer to the original Arkham games than Rocksteady’s VR debut was; you zip between vantage points using a grappling hook and then, when the time is right, swoop down to launch surprise attacks on enemies and engage in hand-to-hand combat. The problem is that this makes for a dizzying and dull VR game.
The camera, for example, mixes up third and first-person. You walk around with cinematic camera angles similar to games like Chronos but, whatever you need to use a Batarang or aim the grapple gun, you press the A button to jump inside the cowl and aim with your head. When zipping between points the game reduces your field of view to reduce nausea. The problem is the mix of camera styles combined with quick cuts between shots in third-person makes playing the game disorientating and a constant struggle to get your bearings. It doesn’t help matters that moving with the d-pad is stiff and awkward.
You’ll see yet more cuts when you transition into the game’s melee combat, which is activated whenever an enemy nears (and appears to be the only way to rid yourself of foot soldiers). Again, it’s like a simplified version of the Arkham games; up to three enemies surround you and you mash A to hit them, then do a timed press of the same button to counter attacks. Heavier attacks will activate on their own and you’ll have to tilt the controller in a corresponding direction to execute them successfully.
It’s not especially broken, but it isn’t really fun, either. I found myself rolling my eyes when a fight scene simply because it meant I’d have to spend another two minutes easily finishing off enemies before pushing on with my objectives. The Arkham games have an intense rhythm to their combat, which is completely lacking here.
As I mentioned earlier, if you rely on stealth you won’t be able to completely eliminate enemies, merely stun them for a short amount of time. It’s a shame you can’t use stealth as a more effective means of removing the enemy, as it could have given levels a bit more pace. That said, each mission lasts no longer than 10 minutes anyway, and a handful of environments and objectives are repeated so often that you’ll be able to finish later levels with your eyes closed.
Stealth is where you’ll use the first-person mode the most, as well as the game’s weak motion controls, which simply involves flicking your wrist to throw a batarang, though you’re aim is determined by the direction you’re looking in.
The game’s not a total loss; I did appreciate the comic book-accurate art style and whoever is doing their best Mark Hamill’s Joker impression does it very well, but there isn’t anything that even begins to make up for the uninspired gameplay.
Batman VRSE might look enticing based on its great art-style, but don’t be fooled. It’s a pale imitation of the Arkham games with stripped back mechanics that serve very little purpose in VR. One day we’ll truly feel like we’ve become the Bat, but today is not that day.
Batman VRSE is free to download on iOS and Android, but needs the $69.99 VRSE headset to run. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.