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Game Review: ‘The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City’

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What do you get when you mix a well-known DC property with an immersive tabletop experience? If nothing comes to mind, that’s alright, because Infinite Rabbit Holes has got you covered with their new game, The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City. What began as a Kickstarter with over a thousand backers pledging 300,000 dollars, The Arkham Asylum Files has finally become a reality. The overall game is envisioned as a ‘three-episode’ story arc,  with Panic in Gotham City serving as the first episode box-set to Infinite Rabbit Holes’ dive into the world of Batman and Gotham City.

The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City combines elements from many popular games and activities, creating an immersive game that fans of Batman and those who love tabletop games can get lost in. Panic in Gotham City elevates what could have easily been a traditional tabletop game, with augmented reality and physical puzzles to bring the city to life through physical puzzles. Solving the mysteries in Gotham City will require all the help you can get, so gather your Bat-Family and get your decoder out, it’s time to play The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City.

[Note: While I’m reviewing this game independently and honestly, it should be noted that it was provided to me by Infinite Rabbit Holes for the purpose of this review. Warning: slight spoilers from The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City are below!]

Joining the Panic in Gotham City

Episode one of Infinite Rabbit Holes ’ newest game promises five to six hours of gameplay, as seen on the side of the box. Depending on what type of gamer you and your friends/family are, this may seem like an appropriate amount of time or not enough for the $150 price tag. However, the hefty box is jammed packed full of games to play and build, so the time to play will actually be much longer.

Arkham Asylum Files Panic in Gotham City
Left: The first thing you see when opening the box. Right: Stacks of envelopes for different chapters in the game. The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the box is massive compared to so many other games I’ve played as an adult. It’s the size of multiple boxes of standard game boxes, with every inch of the box being used to help enrich the game. The game is partly app-based, requiring a phone or tablet to help bring the game to life, which isn’t something I’ve experienced before, but something I hope other games adapt in the future. 

Panic in Gotham City begins after scanning a game code in the box, with the main narrative arc and instructions occurring on the screen. The app walks you through each step, such as when to open an envelope or in which order to assemble the buildings. Infinite Rabbit Holes made it incredibly easy to achieve the goal of enjoying the game.

Storywise, Panic in Gotham City deviates from the expected, with the story not following Batman and his companions as they save the city from recognizable villains. Instead, as the box art hints, Harley Quinn is the star of the show. Players join in with the Queen of Chaos as she works to protect the city from other Arkham Asylum inmates. It’s an interesting twist that allows for some wicked fun. Harley isn’t as regulated or regimented as Batman, meaning more fun for the players in a world where the only rule is there are no rules.

Mechanics of the first chapter of The Arkham Asylum Files

As you open the box, it becomes apparent that there is so much involved with The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City. Besides the plethora of case files stacked in the box, sitting on top is a folded-up newspaper and a present tied with a green bow. You start with the box, which starts the game with a bang, and you’re off to the races.

Box one is broken up into seven parts with each part consisting of multiple sections. Though what you do in each section depends on where you’re at. At times you’ll have to use the black light provided to look for clues, play a game (such as the card game/interactive game of finding the animals that escaped the zoo), or erect the buildings placed throughout Gotham.

Arkham Asylum Files Panic in Gotham City 3: Picture of Board
Picture of the board. Panic in Gotham City. 

Depending on what you’re doing or how good you are at solving puzzles, the time invested in each section may vary. My family and I are avid puzzle people, being either a traditional puzzle or our regular mystery dinner/Hunt A Killer subscription boxes. We love coming together and tearing through a mystery and putting pieces together. So activities like using the app to solve the puzzle in the newspaper took us no time at all.

However, the building of the towers and skyscrapers was the most tedious and time-consuming part of Panic in Gotham City. The components consist of thin pieces of cardboard with styrofoam sandwiched in between, which makes them delicate to work with. Punching them out of the sheet and sliding the pieces into each other was daunting at times, especially as some of the inserts bent as they were wedged together. Although this part of the game takes some gentle hands and a bit more time, once they are together, the buildings are sturdy and don’t fall apart like other games I’ve played with the same component.

Once the buildings are erected, that’s when the game really comes to life. Through your phone or tablet, you can interact with the city of Gotham. Different buildings have different puzzles or clues, while one has a giant network billboard, which reports the different crimes happening around the city. Some of it requires the use of Joker vision, a function in the app that allows you to see Gotham through his eyes.

Arkham Asylum Files Panic in Gotham City 2: Screenshot
Screenshot of the VR aspect on Panic in Gotham City. 

Infinite Rabbit Holes also made sure the game is fun for all, providing hints and clues for those who are stuck on a specific puzzle or task. As someone who prides himself on his puzzle abilities, there was at least one instance where I needed to use this and was thankful for the function.

Final thoughts on The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City

This game is a unique experience, unlike anything I have ever played before. It combines elements of a standard tabletop game with an escape room feel and a mystery to solve. The blend of the physical game with the AR component created an in-depth world in which I and all my players got lost in. My nephews bickered over who got to do what, with each wanting their turn using my phone to explore Gotham and all its hidden secrets.

This is definitely a game that requires a significant amount of time, although can easily be broken up into multiple sessions. Those looking for their newest obsession should check out Panic in Gotham City, as it’s a fantastic first chapter in The Arkham Asylum Files series.

The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City is available now! Will you be checking out the game? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 365 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson