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Batman’s introduction in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League makes a great case for a Dark Knight survival horror game

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League spends much of its first couple of hours introducing the Justice League and establishing just how out of their depth the squad is, and while all of these introductions are pretty neat, one in particular stands out: Batman’s. Naturally, there are spoilers beyond.

The criminal quartet has narrowly avoided being captured by a now-evil Green Lantern thanks to the timely intervention of the Flash. He’s still a do-gooder, you see, and boss lady Amanda Waller needs the Suicide Squad to bring him back to the Hall of Justice. This task is made easier by the fact that he’s been beaten nearly to death, so he’s not in a position to decline. Unfortunately, they’re still being hunted by Brainiac’s goons.

Running for their lives, the crew find themselves in The Batman Experience, a museum dedicated to the Dark Knight. With its narrated exhibits, the museum serves as a way for players to catch up on the events of the Arkham series while also filling in what has happened since then. Everyone knows Batman is Bruce Wayne now, and even his traumatic origin story gets an exhibit.

It’s weird! Batman is this enigmatic hero who strikes fear in the hearts of villains because he’s so unknowable, so for his life story to be documented in a museum, where families can enjoy a lovely day out and learn about how Bruce’s parents were murdered, it strikes a bizarre tone. But you aren’t given much time to think about any of this, because the Dark Knight himself is also visiting the museum, but he’s not there for a spot of sightseeing.

Before you even get a glimpse of Batman, the game emphasises that this is not the hero of Gotham as we know him. His first act is the murder of a terrified security guard. The guard’s body flops onto the floor, neck broken, eyes bulging. It’s grisly stuff. Now surrounded by darkness, the Suicide Squad must escape the museum, all the while being hunted by a man who lives in the shadows.

The sequence essentially flips the Arkham games, and it’s brilliant. Even though you know Batman is watching you, he’s completely hidden, so you’re running down these corridors and through the exhibits knowing that the next step could be your last. Sometimes you’ll encounter traps, like explosive foam in the shape of the bat symbol, which you may have used yourself to take out goons in the Arkham series.

One by one, every member of the squad falls, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. Batman is like this primal force, impossible to fight or thwart. Naturally, the crime pals all survive, but Batman remains close by. Afterwards, you’ll spot him watching you across Metropolis before vanishing. Just to remind you that your time is almost up.

It’s such a great inversion of the previous games that I desperately wish Suicide Squad had fully committed to survival horror instead of being a looter shooter—it certainly would have been a more inventive and appropriate follow-up. It’s not that I’m having a terrible time with the version of the game Rocksteady has actually created, it’s just that it’s all so conventional. It’s a generic, DC-themed looter shooter and nothing more. From the studio that gave us three of the best superhero games, I expected something a bit more.

Alien: Isolation offers a great blueprint for a game like this. Obviously you’ve got Amnesia, too, but there you don’t get to even try to fight back, whereas Alien gives you a few more tools to help you survive. The museum hunt is a purely scripted experience, which does lessen its impact, but a Batman with the xenomorph’s dynamic behaviour? Yeah, that would be absolutely terrifying. Especially when you consider that Batman has a much larger and more versatile bag of tricks. Xenomorphs don’t get grappling guns, smoke bombs or explosives. Thank god.

Clearly I just want deadly, stoic lads to chase me, because I suggested something similar for Hitman. I’m still waiting. At the very least, maybe we could get Batman and Agent 47 in Dead by Daylight? They’d fit right in.

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