‘Gotham By Gaslight’ Video Reveals the Victorian Gotham City of the Canceled Game
A few weeks ago, we took a look at Julie Farrell’s concept art for a video game based on 1989’s Gotham By Gaslight. Unfortunately for anyone excited by the idea of a game where you play as Steampunk Batman hunting down Jack the Ripper at the turn of the century, the game never came out. Now, we’ve got another piece of the project: a test video revealing Batman running through the foggy streets of a Victorian Gotham City.
In addition to Batman’s old-style cloak — which seems to be made of that same shiny waterproof stuff as Batman’s cape in the Arkham Asylum games — the one thing that really jumped out at me about this video was the fog. It’s certainly accurate to the comic, but the combination of super-heroes and a foggy city reminds me a lot of the original Neversoft Spider-Man game, where the fog was a plot point that meant you could battle on top of skyscrapers without having to overload your Dreamcast by making it render a whole city.
In practice, though, I imagine it was meant to function more like the original Silent Hill, where the lack of visibility led to a claustrophobic atmosphere that heightened the horror aspects of the game, and it lends itself to a pretty neat mechanic where, true to his name, Batman has the ability to see in the dark.
If nothing else, it could lead to some pretty great moments where Batman emerged from the fog to terrorize the superstitious, cowardly criminals of 1889:
The video also shows another element of Gaslight Batman’s arsenal, a super-jump that takes the place of his grappling hook and, as a friend of mine pointed out, seems to be pretty directly inspired by Spring-Heeled Jack. It’s not something that shows up in the comic, but tying it in to an actual Victorian urban legend who wore a cape and had Bat-like ears is a pretty nice way to capture the era.
In short, the more I see of this thing, the more I wish it would’ve made it past the pitch, and with a tagline like “Batman vs. Jack The Ripper,” I’m not really sure how it didn’t. But if nothing else, maybe the success of the Arkham games and the interest in seeing pieces of this pitch will get someone at Warner Brothers to take another look at some different takes on Batman in video games.