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  • Gameplay Analysis: Batman Arkham Asylum

    [08.13.10]
    - Filip Coulianos

  • Flow chart

    Each cell represents one minute of gameplay and the color represents what type of gameplay. The chart is to be read from left to right.


    Layout and progression

    Batman Arkham Asylum at its core is a strictly linear game but has elements of choice and freedom. It takes place on an island with multiple buildings on it. Each building serves somewhat as a chapter in the storyline and the player revisits some of the buildings during the progression of the game to solve new puzzles, find new clues or to defeat a boss. As the player roams the island in between each chapter, or building if you will, s/he is fully free to explore the island.

    Objectives

    The game itself has a very clear objective that is being presented in the very beginning of the game; defeat the Joker. However to reach that goal the game presents lots of objectives along the way. Each chapter has one or multiple objectives in the same building that needs to be accomplished in order to proceed; however it's never clear how far the player has progressed at a given time.

    Choice

    The illusions of choice are also present on some rare occasions as some chapters branches off and gives the player two objectives and s/he can choose which one of them to complete first. This happens for example in the medical facility (where the player has the choice to save Doctor Chen or Aaron first from the thugs but both has to be saved), a similar choice appears in the mansion as well as when Batman is about to leave the Batcave the second time. The question is why player is allowed to make this choice in just a few rare cases. Probably it is to create an illusion of freedom, to make the player believe s/he is not playing just another corridor shooter. However, since these choices really doesn't mean anything other than choosing what objective to complete first and as they are presented so rarely I do believe Rocksteady should have improved on this a lot more, or skipped it entirely.


    The travel between each chapter (building)

    The player travels on the island between the buildings nine times during the game. To make this travel time feel more interesting and less repetitive, new gameplay elements are being presented here throughout the game. For example sniper enemies are being presented the second time the player travels the island between the Batcave and the Mansion. Later on as the player leaves the Penitentiary the lunatics inside it has been released by the Joker and spread throughout the island. As Ivy is released the island gets overgrown and many of the buildings change in appearance and places the player revisit has different gameplay as paths are being blocked by huge roots. Since the player spends a total of 60 minutes just traveling through the island, these features makes the island a bit different every time the player travels through, minimizes repetition and invites the player to explore her environments again once it have been transformed.

    Gadgets

    The player is awarded with gadgets throughout the game that are spread 60 (+-10) minutes apart. They allow access to new parts of the island and help the character progression throughout the game. This perfect spread cannot be a coincidence and must have been carefully planned during pre-production.

    Revisiting locations

    The player revisits some of the buildings in the game to achieve new objectives a couple of times after Ivy has been released and the island has been overgrown. The player doesn't revisit very much however, only 30 minutes in total are being spent revisiting old locations.

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