‘Gotham By Gaslight’ and the Steampunk Batman Game That Never Was
For those of you out there who like both Batman and the combination of brass gears, top hats and goggles that is Steampunk, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that, as Kotaku reported last week, concept art by artist Julie Farrell exists for a steampunk-styled Batman game based on Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola's 1989 graphic novel Batman: Gotham By Gaslight.
The bad news is that the game itself never made it past the pitch, leaving us all to gnash our teeth at the fact that something we didn't even know we wanted until we heard about it doesn't actually exist. But in addition to providing us with some pretty awesome pieces of art, it definitely started me to wondering about just what kind of Batman games we might get in the future.As far as source material for a video game goes, Gotham By Gaslight is certainly one of the best places you could go for inspiration. It's not just that it's a good story, or even that it has the brilliant hook of Batman vs. Jack the Ripper, which is about as easy a sell as pop culture could ask for. It's that it's built around set pieces that feel like they'd be fun to play.
The idea of Batman jumping across Victorian rooftps in Gotham City circa 1889 to slug it out with muttonchopped thugs, tracking trails of blood through shadowy streets, and having an epic confrontation with the real Jack the Ripper in a gothic graveyard on the graves of his own parents? That's not just fun stuff to read about, it's fun stuff to do, easily broken down into levels so that you could expand it with side missions at your leisure.
In short, it sounds like fun, especially with what we've seen from period games that adopt a decidedly Batmanesque mode of transportation, like the Assassins Creed series.
But for whatever reason, it didn't happen. It does make me wonder, though, whether the fact that Batman is an undeniable success in the world of video games may have opened the door for different takes on the character. Rocksteady's Arkham Asylum games have the selling point of drawing on the 70 year history of Batman, but it's clear at this point that they're building a storyline of their own that's as distinct as any other take on the character. So why not embrace it? Given the amount of different versions of Batman there have been over the years -- and how many of them people just absolutely love -- why not just go all out with it?
It may never happen, but ever since I spotted Farrell's concept art on Kotaku, I keep imagining how neat it would be to have a game in the style of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (which took a huge cue from Arkham Asylum with the noir levels), with different versions of Batman teaming up to take on a larger threat. Seriously, if there was a game that alternated between the bright, poppy Brave and the Bold Batman, the dark, battle-damaged and hilariously gothed up Arkham City Batman, Gaslight's steampunk Batman and, I don't know, that vampire Batman from Red Rain that everybody likes but me, I'm pretty sure people would be pretty excited.
I know I would, but let's face it, my happiness with a video game is often directly proportional to the number of Batmans that have been made to fit on a single disc.
So while the Gotham By Gaslight game didn't happen, it's at least given us something pretty cool to think about.
For more of Julie Farrell's art, check out her website!