This review was originally posted on a website I briefly served as Senior Editor.
The first DLC pack for Batman: Arkham Knight puts players into the boots of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl for the first time in the history of the Arkham game series, and though some will likely hope that the new level would’ve been a little longer, it shows promise for the type of content that we can expect over the next six months of post-release support for the latest Batman video game adventure from Rocksteady Studios.
Taking place sometime prior to the events of 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batgirl: A Matter of Family features the titular heroine arriving at a characteristically creepy abandoned amusement park as she tracks Batman’s ultimate nemesis, the Joker. With Tim Drake/Robin arriving as backup, Batgirl informs him that the Joker has kidnapped her father, and that if Joker sees any sign of Batman’s arrival on the park grounds, the Clown Prince of Crime will kill the police commissioner on the spot. It’s up to Batgirl and Robin to save the commissioner and stop the Joker, Harley Quinn, and their dozens of henchmen from killing several of Gotham’s police officers, including Batgirl’s father without any assistance from their mentor.
Featuring the return from the main Arkham Knight game of Ashley Greene as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, Matt Mercer as Tim Drake/Robin, Jonathan Banks as Commissioner Gordon, Tara Strong as Harley Quinn, and Mark Hamill as the Joker, the game’s story is a short, yet satisfying tale telling how two of Batman’s protégés attempt to take on the worst of Gotham’s criminals without having the Dark Knight by their side. It also in-lays some surprising tragedy in regards to the abandoned theme park. While it might be easy to dismiss such a locale as done-to-death or cliché, they actually give a functional in-story reason why the night’s events take place there…but you have to look for it.
This DLC was developed by WB Games Montréal, the same team that developed 2013’s prequel game Batman: Arkham Origins. While an earlier press release specified that all future DLC would be developed directly by Rocksteady Studios, Montréal did a pretty respectable job with this offering, sticking pretty closely to the familiar gameplay elements from the main Arkham Knight game. It did seem a little unsatisfying that there were no additional gadgets at Batgirl’s disposal to emphasize her computer skill, but it also seems unfair to dock points to the developers for sticking to the main game features that they added content to as opposed to making a wholly original experience that they were able to dictate mechanics for.
The design of the abandoned theme park seems perfectly in-line with the established aesthetic of the series as a whole, and feels slightly more akin to the environments found in the original Arkham Asylum game than any of the others in the series. The Seagate Amusement Park is a decidedly moody environment, and while its relatively expansive, there are a few areas where it closes in on you just enough to feel similar to some of the dimly-lit hallways of the Asylum from the original game.
It’s also pure joy just getting more new content from Mark Hamill as the Joker. While I refrained from mentioning his return in my full review of the main Arkham Knight game, it’s nothing short of surprising and extremely fun to hear him provide new lines of dialogue for a character he embodies unlike any other performer. While the Joker isn’t exactly talking to you constantly, there’s just enough from him in A Matter of Family to feel satisfying, and hearing that unsettling cackle and sardonic brand of humor is always going to be a rewarding experience for any Batman fan, especially if you’re as much of a fan of “Batman: The Animated Series” as most of us are likely to be.
As for the story itself, it seems strangely reminiscent of a more mature version of a tale that could be told in a single episode of that animated series. It’s a pretty self-contained adventure, and that generally makes for a tight and concise narrative, which thankfully doesn’t take away from the gameplay experience. More story can be uncovered, though, in the form of audio logs spread around the amusement park that can tell you the origins of this park’s construction, and how the Joker and Harley Quinn’s skills of manipulation helped to get them a tailor-made hideout.
Overall, A Matter of Family is a satisfying addition to the content found in Batman: Arkham Knight. It would’ve been nice if it could be a little longer, but if you’re a fan of Batgirl, Robin, the Joker, or Harley Quinn — or all of them in equal measure — then it makes for a fun, satisfying afternoon or evening diversion.