The Arkham Asylum Files: Unleashing Gotham City Interview + Demo

Harley Quinn is back at Arkham and the star of The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic In Gotham City mixed reality tabletop game! Luckily, Batman-News had the chance to play and review the game back in June, but got the opportunity to visit panels, conduct interviews, and witness live demos at San Diego Comic-Con.

Down The Rabbit Hole

Firstly, we were able to sit with Infinite Rabbit Holes’ team one-on-one. Most importantly, the lead creatives behind the “Why So Serious?” ARG for The Dark Knight (2008); Michael Borys, Alex Lieu, and Susan Bonds. During the demo, the impressive AR tracking, tactile materials, and the game’s watercolor-like animation became easy standouts. Consequently, Infinite Rabbit Holes were more than happy to heap praise and credit to the artwork by Jophen Stein, and Johnny Rodriguez. Susan Bonds even confesses that the art style was cleverly “meant to resemble Rorschach tests.” However, their primary focus in the game design is “giving you agency” and literally “build the game as you play.”

The narrative begins with Harley Quinn’s return to her life as a professional therapist. Something that CCO Alex Lieu jokes “shouldn’t happen in real life,” but adding that her empathy and humanity was the key to selecting her to lead the story. Players join Harley in her full circle moment to help her track down and stop various rogues in Gotham City. The game box itself is designed to look like an Arkham Asylum file cabinet with its components easily replaced for replay value. All the while, the game features “physically immersive” puzzles driven by interactive “Joker Vision.” Moreover, the game has a fully immersive soundtrack, and near constant sound effects and voice acting.

Infinite Rabbit Holes SVP of Interaction Michael Borys pictured with Arkham Asylum Files Demo. photo by Aaron Ray Jr.

Full Immersion

Later, the Nerdist’s Dan Casey hosts The Arkham Files: Unleashing Gotham City panel with comic book writer Tim Seeley who wrote the Arkham Files: Harley Quinn prequel tie-in. During the panel, SVP of Interaction and Game Design Michael Borys and Tim Seeley share their contrasting views on crafting the mysteries of the game. While Michael Borys gushes over his complex plans of building “combination lock out of a city,” Tim Seeley claims that hopes he “left himself clues” to be able to improvise a solution. Alternatively, they all consistently agree that world and character building is more important than the tech or mechanics.

The Arkham Asylum Files brought their “a-game” by handing out in-universe newspapers, comics, and mysterious “Joker Dollars.” However, none of the gifts were innocuous. On the contrary, the game masters planted elaborate clues and hints in every item. In particular, by following the URL on the Joker Dollars, any dollar can turn into a demo of the AR found in the game. Additionally, guests who found secret messages in their comics got physical copies of the game during the panel! The creators were even generous enough to stay back to sign the boxes personally.

Unleashing Gotham City

Despite the excitement, there are minor caveats. For one, the Android app is still a ways to go until it is ready, regardless of what it says on the box. This means that potential players without Apple products may have to wait longer to play. Additionally, you need quite a bit of legroom to set up the game! Honestly, players might be unable to play the game at all without the space or limitation of smart device brands. Even if the price point is worth it, the current restrictions may alienate gamers. Fortunately, the game designers confide that they are well aware and remain hard at work looking for viable solutions. For now, the cutting edge mixed-reality adventure is currently available for iPhone and iPad users on the Infinite Rabbit Holes website.

Arkham Asylum Files: Panic In Gotham City is available now.