Written by Ian Ball and Martin Lancaster, Arkham VR is based on the franchise's long-running comic book mythos. The game's storyline takes place between 2011's Batman: Arkham City and 2015's Batman: Arkham Knight, and follows Batman as he investigates the disappearance of his allies Nightwing and Robin.
The game is presented from a first-person perspective, with a primary focus on using Batman's skills and gadgets to explore the immediate environment and solve puzzles.
Batman: Arkham VR is an action-adventure game viewed from the first-person perspective using PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets and associated controllers to see through the eyes of the playable character, Batman.The player can look around the environment freely and interact with reachable items, and access three gadgets from Batman's utility belt: the throwable batarang, the grapnel gun—a grappling hook, and the forensic scanner, which can be used to examine evidence and recreate crime scenes.The player is able to teleport to preset locations around the current environment (with movement sometimes represented by use of the grapnel gun) but the character cannot walk freely.
Unlike previous Arkham games, Arkham VR features no combat and instead focuses on solving puzzles to find clues that will advance the mystery. Arkham VR features optional tasks, including 30 challenges from the supervillain Riddler who adds various puzzles and concealed items to locate after the game has been completed, target practice with the batarang, and viewing profiles and models for the series' various characters on the Batcomputer.
Arkham VR features an ensemble cast of characters from the history of Batman comics. The main character is Batman (Kevin Conroy)—a superhero trained to the peak of human physical and mental perfection and an expert in martial arts. He is supported by his allies, Robin (Tom Austen), Nightwing, and his loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth (Hugh Fraser). Batman's crusade against crime brings him into conflict with the weapon-dealing Penguin (Ian Redford), the mutated Killer Croc (Steven Blum), and the Riddler (Wally Wingert). Batman's arch nemesis, the psychopathic Joker (Mark Hamill), appears following his death during the events of Arkham City, after succumbing to a fatal disease caused by his previous consumption of the Titan formula, an unstable steroid serum which turns men into maddened monsters. Arkham VR also features reporter Vicki Vale (Jules de Jongh), Batman's parents, Thomas (Conroy) and Martha Wayne (Andrea Deck), and their killer Joe Chill (Glenn Wrage).
Billionaire Bruce Wayne is woken by an alarm from a nightmare about his parents' murder. He is informed by his butler Alfred that there is an urgent situation that requires his attention. Activating a secret entrance to the Batcave beneath his manor, Wayne puts on his Batsuit and gadgets to become Batman. In the Batcave, Alfred informs Batman that both Robin and Nightwing have disappeared and he has been unable to contact them. Batman activates Nightwing's tracker and locates him in Central Gotham. Heading out in the Batmobile, Batman arrives to find Nightwing dead in an alley. His investigation reveals that despite his nearly unrivaled training and skills, Nightwing was defeated in combat and had his neck snapped. His investigation further reveals that one of Penguin's henchmen witnessed the murder before fleeing.
Batman travels in the Batwing to confront Penguin in his Iceberg lounge club. He interrogates the Penguin and learns that the witness was blown up by a mysterious assailant before he could reveal the killer's identity. Batman next infiltrates the Gotham morgue to examine the victims of the explosion, and is able to piece together shrapnel from the explosive to identify it as belonging to a demolitions company working on a sewer project beneath Founders Island. By focusing his search in this area, Batman is able to make radio contact with Robin who warns that he is being held to lure Batman into a trap.
As Batman moves through the sewers, he hears intercom announcements from the Joker. Batman finds Robin in a cage, but while attempting to free him, Batman himself is captured. Robin notes Joker-styled graffiti on the cage, believing that their captor is emulating the Joker. Batman and Robin attempt to escape, but they are attacked by Killer Croc. They use the electrified cages to stave off his attacks, but after Robin escapes his cage he is crushed against Batman's by Croc, before being eaten.
The screen flashes and Batman's cage suddenly transforms into an elevator descending into the depths of Arkham Asylum. As Batman explores the facility he comes across a series of inmate cells, interacting with each one before the last reveals a captive Joker. As Batman turns to leave, he finds himself locked alone inside the Joker's cell. The room begins to change, displaying scrawled accusations of "killer" and "HA" on the walls, as it is revealed that it was Batman that murdered Nightwing, blew up the witness, and lured Robin into the trap to get him killed. He committed these actions under the influence of the Joker, who has infiltrated Batman's body and mind through a transfusion of his infected blood prior to his death in Arkham City. As Batman looks into a mirror and sees the Joker as his reflection, his nemesis announces that the dynamic duo are together at last.
The game is presented as potentially a dream or hallucination caused by the Joker's blood: the sound of an alarm can be periodically heard, as can Alfred trying to wake Batman, and Wayne listening to voicemail messages from the deceased Joker.
In June 2016 at E3 2016, it was announced that Rocksteady was developing Batman: Arkham VR for the PlayStation VR, which released in October 2016. The game has players "utilize [Batman's] legendary gadgets to unravel a plot that threatens the lives of his closest allies." Following a five month period of exclusivity for the Playstation 4, the game was released for the Oculus Riftand HTC Vive on April 25, 2017. Rocksteady teased the plot for Arkham VR in the Arkham Knight downloadable content "Crime Fighter Challenge Pack #6", which allowed players to explore the Wayne manor and interact with a piano to reveal a hidden wall containing references to a murder, shrapnel, and the Penguin.
Aggregating review website Metacritic calculated an average score of 74 out of 100 based on 61 reviews for the PlayStation 4 version. Zero Punctuation's Ben Croshaw called the PSVR version "incredible garbage" and "a half hour CD-ROM virtual tour from mid to late 90s", later nominating it as one of the worst games of 2016.