– Charlie Braithwaite
The best analogy for Batman: Arkham Knight’s first DLC offering is that of an Easter egg, no not a cheeky little DC universe surprise, but an actual chocolate egg. Looks good, tastes okay, but my god is it hollow. Naturally minor spoilers for all of the Arkham games/the new DLC lie ahead. Enter at your own peril.
As we have discussed A Matter of Family had the potential to be better than the Arkham Knight story. It has Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake teaming up to kick ass, old school Harley Quinn and an undead Joker. No not a zombie… just not dead yet. From the get go the DLC just doesn’t quite feel right, it just starts. No amazing cut scene, you’re just told Commissioner Gordon is captive and Batman can’t do anything about it, so Robin and Batgirl have to save the day. No mention of Nightwing, who at this point would be more experienced than the two and could at least pitch in. Perhaps more importantly though, we don’t hear from Batman himself, you think the guy might chime in on the headpiece to offer some advice to the teenagers he is sending to fight the guy who has already “killed” one Robin.
From a comic nerds point of view, this story looked like it was going to be filled with The Killing Joke references. It had literally all the elements. But no, instead we got an average hostage rescue story which rehashed all of the standard brawl/stealth elements of the Arkham series. The only new feature with Batgirl was extended uses of the hacking device, but this was an upgrade on an existing gadget, not exactly ground breaking stuff. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the Arkham elements, they still work, but it was essentially playing a regular Arkham game, except with a sexier skin for Batman.
Skip this section if you don’t want to read detailed spoilers about the dark as hell sidestory in the DLC.
So one thing that the DLC does really well is a background story that you have the option to pursue through completing short fair themed mini-games. It provides an origin to the ocean themed Seagate Amusement Park. Brace yourselves, this story is not light reading.
The park was built by a desperate man for his terminally ill daughter. Throughout the process the man is being manipulated by his therapist, Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Name sound familiar? Yeah, it’s totally Harley Quinn. The good doctor recommends a man to help design the park, a man by the name of Jack White, who has an affinity for purple suits. Mr. White A.K.A THE JOKER convinces the man to take his daughter to see a specialist, Penelope Young. Again, sound familiar? She was integral to the plot of the original Arkham Asylum where she was conducting research on the Titan formula whilst being manipulated by a man known as Jack White (how does he release albums in-between all this manipulating?).
Ultimately the man’s daughter dies after her condition worsens from seeing Dr. Young and he becomes suicidal. When he confides in Dr. Quinzel about his mental state she encourages him to kill himself, but not before signing Seagate over to Jack White. Oh and the method of suicide, the man receives some pills from White who says they will be painless. As Batgirl hears in the man’s final recording, he declares he will be seeing his daughter soon and takes the pills. Shortly after swallowing them he starts manically laughing in-between sounds of audible agony. Those painless pills? Straight up Joker Venom. Yup…. I said it was dark, didn’t I?
Spoiler zone has passed. Need to stare vacantly out of a window and process what happened? Go ahead, the conclusion will be waiting.
Anyway, weak premise and derivative gameplay aside, where A Matter of Family really falls down is through its extremely short length. It took me just over an hour to run through the story, which makes me deeply concerned for the future DLC releases. It’s great that Rocksteady have promised six months of regular content with the season pass, but if that is only going to be a handful of glorified training missions, it is really lazy work.