Review: Batman – Arkham City Escape / Designer: Matt Hyra / Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment / Release Date: Out Now
Modern video games can be high cost exercises, with budgets in the millions. So it may come as no surprise that, like its cousin in the movies, Batman: Arkham City has a whole host of franchise related tat. This has an included an inevitable board game. When it was first announced, we were a little sceptical. Games publisher Cryptozoic has produced games such as The Walking Dead Board Game and The Big Bang Theory Party Game, both of which had little to do with the TV shows they were apparently based on.
Luckily, Batman: Arkham City Escape breaks this trend; it does simulate the fun of the source material to some extent, but also sticks to its roots and is a entertaining two-player board game that takes about half an hour from start to finish. Mechanically, this is a player versus player card management game, with the board being used to track a complicated scoring system. What all that jargon means is one person plays the villains, and the other person plays the role of Batman. The goal for the villain player is to get a set number of bad guys to the bottom of the board as quickly as possible, and Batman’s goal is to stop them. Conflict is resolved by rolling dice and playing cards.
Different types of cards are used for different things. For example, Batman has a Utility Belt deck, and gets to pick four gadgets out of a possible eight. This means the Batman player can employ different strategies from game to game. As there are many crooks and only one Batman, the player has to consider his movement around the board carefully; does he try leaping from Gothic gargoyle to gargoyle in order to intercept his foes, or does he rely on his cape or grapple, knowing that if he selects these gadgets at the start of the game, he has less of a chance of stopping the scarier foes such as Killer Croc?
There are also cards that randomise the types of villains that can be played, the types of cool things either side can pick up, (including allies) and combat is also card based. Combat is a critical part of this game, and it flows very well. Custom dice make all of this much easier to calculate and manage. Components wise, the build is okay. The cards are little flimsy, and it suffers from the typical flaw of Cryptozoic tie-in games in that it uses art from the game and this is less impressive in print than on screen, but these are very minor gripes. Overall, it evokes the spirit of the game very well and will have you claiming to be the Dark Knight in no time at all.