Counter and Parry: How Arkham Asylum Influenced The Future of Combat Systems

By Ujaan Pal Chawdhury

Photo by Igor Karimov on Unsplash

At this given time when we are being showered by video game titles every now and then, every developer tries to stand out by offering players something distinct to the players either through storytelling or game-play features. Although introducing unique and enjoyable game-play, not every title manages to leave a mark in the long run. Among the handful of games that did introduce a completely new feature was Batman: Arkham Asylum.

2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum offered a simple and enjoyable combat mechanism. This combat included 3 steps of 'Attacking, Parrying and Dodging' with an individual key assigned for each. You attack when there is an opening, parry and counter incoming blows, and lastly, dodge uncounterable attacks from enemies. With a combo meter attached to the fight sequences, the game encourages you to hit fast and hard while avoiding getting hit at the same time. As the numbers of the combo goes higher, Batman's damage and speed increases with it letting you tear through a large number of mobs. Along with well-designed stealth segments, this fascinating combat, and with cool gadgets. I mean, gamers still fondly remember the days when they spent hours doing crazy stuff with the remote control Batarang.

Arkham Asylum provided a solid game-play experience. Since then this combat mechanism has not only been a staple of the Arkham series but implemented by many other games from different franchises such as Sleeping Dogs, both Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War, Remember Me, Mad Max, and even the recent Spider-Man games. Most of these titles brought some of their own features to the plate. Sleeping Dogs had a combat mechanism where you could interact with the objects of the environment by grabbing and shoving your enemies in a window, dumpster, or even a wood chipper for an instant bloody finisher. Remember Me lets you customize your own combos of light and heavy attacks, to get boosts for damage and health. Mad Max's combat mostly focused on the finishers by unlocking new counter and brutal finishing moves for Max.

It is quite fascinating when you realize that it's already been more than a decade and players are still enjoying the feature introduced by the developers at Rocksteady's seminal series.