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Letters from the Front

Released this month back in 2009, Arkham Asylum redefined what a superhero game could be. A decade later, it is still viewed that way with a legacy quite unlike any other.

A decade ago, it was a totally different time for the Caped Crusader. The Dark Knight which had released a year earlier had taken the Caped Crusader to new heights after a killer outing in 2006 that featured a more darker Batman after years of the Batman license being MIA, the videogame side of Batman had suffered with the Lego games being the only form of success. There were movie tie-ins with the videogame adaption of Batman Begins and a release for The Dark Knight videogame adaption but that was scrapped after numerous issues with development which resulted in the closure of Pandemic Studios and the license was now up in the air.

Unlike today, superhero games weren’t very profitable nor had alot of value, especially the Batman license due to the failures of previous games so it went to Eidos in 2007 with Eidos approaching Rocksteady, a small-title studio that had launched Urban Chaos: Riot Response in 2004. Eidos offered them a once-in-a-lifetime chance that would forever change the course of history.

By 2009, every accolade was given including the Guinness World Record for ‘Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever’ , with such high praise given even in previews and demos, it was time to map out a trilogy that began with Arkham Asylum. Arkham Asylum would release on August 25th, 2009 to rave reviews and awards and it would be considered the greatest superhero game of the decade and of all time. With Arkham Asylum and Rocksteady’s hard work, the Batman videogame license was reborn and had turned into a superpower.

Personally, when I first saw the game and read about it in that famous Game Informer issue, I was fascinated by it and I was amped by it. The game began with Batman taking the Joker into Arkham and the intro became iconic as Joker escaped and revealed his plan to the Dark Knight that he would threaten Gotham if The Dark Knight does not stay within the Asylum. Combat felt powerful and each boss fight felt unique and was intriguing, Arkham Asylum was the game that made you feel like Batman and immersed you into the world of Batman, for the first time ever after years of disappointing games. Arkham Asylum is how you create a captivating superhero experience.

A decade after its release, its impact is far and wide. It was the catalyst for many things we see today in modern day game development, it was the catalyst for Insomanic’s Spiderman and for many games. Arkham Asylum is a game that has transcended time and space, it is truly one of the few games that are able to pull off such a feat. What a game. What an iconic game, it is a game that we will never see again.

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