Root for the villain – why Batman: Arkham Knight is among the bravest video games this era

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More video games will profit from following in Rocksteady’s footsteps in the event that they’re seeking to create villains worthy of admiration.


Having not too long ago completed Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, I used to be left with a sense of utter resentment at how paper-thin and meaningless the sport’s villain turned out to be. I discovered myself recalling different video games during which the principle antagonist performed a serious half in how we perceived the occasions of the story, and the way they formed the general expertise.

You’ll discover robust spoilers for Arkham Knight past this level, together with the sport’s endings and main plot factors.

I’m speaking about Batman: Arkham Knight‘s Scarecrow here, of course. The mastermind behind every terrible thing that took place over that fateful night in Gotham. The Arkham Knight was not the villain of this story, though he did serve a specific and entertaining purpose, but we’ll get to that.

This isn’t Rocksteady’s first rodeo. Both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City featured completed large baddies operating the present. Yet each tales shared comparatively constructive endings, a brilliant tomorrow for our buddy the caped crusader, with little impact on him or the world of the sport. Batman could have been in a darkish place on the finish of Arkham City, however he was by no means damaged, and finally, the Joker was taken down.

This time round Scarecrow’s plans, above all else, served to push the Gotham Knight to his absolute limits earlier than finally breaking him.


“Villainous antics in most games usually serve only to push the story forward, and they often lack substance and weight. Each time Scarecrow threatened to do something he followed through.”

Each time Scarecrow threatened to do one thing he adopted via regardless of our greatest efforts. Villainous antics in most video games often serve solely to push the story ahead, and so they typically lack substance and weight. Here, we had been offered with a nasty man worthy of our consideration for the straightforward purpose that he preys on the feeble, fallible human nature, one thing everybody can relate to.

All the time we spent making an attempt to foil Scarecrow’s plans was akin to working our technique to the highest of a mountain, considering each inch is a victory, when in actuality we’re nowhere close to the height. Make no mistake, not reaching the proverbial peak is identical as shedding. These had been the stakes in Batman: Arkham Knight.

Let’s rapidly go over the most important occasions of the story:

The first time we’re launched to Scarecrow is correct at first of the sport, when everybody acquired a dwell demonstration of what his worry toxin is able to. After efficiently finding the manufacturing facility he used to mass produce it, the Arkham Knight was launched. It’s at this second it grew to become obvious why he wanted to be a part of this story.

Scarecrow is aware of no variety of armed henchmen can cease Batman, nor can he take him on himself. Not but at the very least. Which is why he wanted a real adversary to Batman, somebody who is aware of him effectively – a reverse Batman, if you’ll. The Arkham Knight was that individual, a pawn whose job it’s to maintain Batman busy for so long as Scarecrow wanted to execute his plans.


This origin of the Arkham Knight is one thing the sport performed with till proper till the top. Long-time Batman followers recognized who he actually was as quickly as he uttered his first traces of dialogue, after all, however that’s moreover the purpose. The thriller shrouding his identification, even to these 95 p.c certain of who he was, carried him all through.

Demonstrating how highly effective and resourceful the Arkham Knight is helped introduce a number of pink herrings to throw off these of us with a comic book guide background. It additionally helped promote the concept that he could be a real match for Batman, one thing we don’t see typically. Although greater than a worthy foe, Scarecrow knew even the Arkham Knight could not suffice, so he rounded up the remainder of the standard suspects and gave them the keys to town, making certain Batman is at all times enjoying catch-up.

The sport offered the occasions as a wrestle for Batman from the get-go. For the primary time he was overwhelmed. We as gamers had been overwhelmed, opting as a substitute to give attention to essential missions as a way to make tangible progress.

I used to be nonetheless coping with the Arkham Knight reveal earlier than Batman had his first face-to-face with Scarecrow. He was unflinching, indicating that regardless of having simply destroyed his manufacturing facility, we could have did not even make a dent in his operation. Even after studying about his plans to weaponize the worry toxin, Scarecrow remained unfazed. It was then I realised the sport may very well let him use the Cloudburst weapon within the metropolis.


As all of this was happening within the foreground, within the background Barbara was taken out of the image (main us to consider she’s gone for good), and Batman misplaced Gordon when the latter realised Barbara was working with him. Batman is extra weak than ever now, having to cope with an ever-escalating state of affairs as he by some means continued to lose an increasing number of of his closest allies because the evening went on.

Again, all of this was a part of Scarecrow’s plan to interrupt Batman, one thing the story typically highlighted as the actual endgame of this entire setup. This is when issues took a flip, and the sport determined to indicate you Scarecrow isn’t all discuss, letting him detonate the weapon.

After spending a while coping with the gameplay penalties of Gotham being engulfed in worry toxin, we lastly earn a victory, however not with out shedding one other ally. This specific story occasion was stunning, as a result of we’re used to villainous threats not really manifesting. Yet this time, they’ve, altering the sport together with them.

Batman is now on edge, and having been uncovered to the worry toxin earlier within the sport his hallucinations are beginning to have a serious impact on his psyche. But it nonetheless wasn’t sufficient to cease him. After taking a bullet for Barbara (whom we now know was alive all alongside), he’s as soon as once more offered with unimaginable odds.

At this level within the story, Batman realises there’s no stopping Scarecrow, and he roughly accepts the concept that he could need to lastly succumb to the pressure.


This leaves time for one different transfer, the one that may carry the journey to an finish. After studying Robin’s life is below menace, Batman realises that the one technique to save the boy is to show himself in to Scarecrow. It made sense for Batman to make this determination, and for us to not query it. We, together with Batman, have witnessed firsthand what Scarecrow is able to.

What occurred right here is evident: the villain of the story is about to attain his final aim of unmasking the hero, displaying the world he’s solely human, and one which’s inclined to worry like the remainder of them.

Throughout this lengthy journey Scarecrow at all times confirmed relentless vaunt, and though he was defeated on the final minute, all of the injury he did hasn’t been for naught. Batman is lastly damaged, and ceaselessly scarred. Even after releasing himself from the leash of his oldest demon, the Joker, Batman knew he can now not be town’s guardian.

The sport even portrayed this effectively in how the world reacted to the reveal, and in the way in which Batman himself spoke for the rest of the marketing campaign (assuming you didn’t already filter out all the things). The solely factor left is for Batman to make his exit, which he does.

We could by no means get one other story set in the identical universe, but when we do, the occasions of Batman: Arkham Knight could have ceaselessly formed this world. As for Scarecrow, he can relaxation simple figuring out he is among the most fulfilling villains in all of gaming, and one of many few antagonists to really win.