A tabletop game that brings puzzle-solving and escape room sensibilities to the world of Batman seems like a no-brainer. Until now, no game has brought all the right pieces together. The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City from Infinite Rabbit Holes and Animal Repair Shop does, though. It blends an original Gotham story centered on Harley Quinn with mystery, puzzles, props, and augmented reality (AR). If it sounds like a lot of elements, it is—100 of them, actually. All of them come together for a unique, challenging, and fun experience.
Infinite Rabbit Holes sent us a copy of The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City for review. The story unfolds across seven chapters. You spend time on the streets of Gotham City, which you literally build, and then inside Arkham Asylum. Dr. Harleen Quinzel has a key role—she’s back at Arkham as a therapist—but Harley Quinn shows up too. The primary villain in the game is Anarky, but I won’t go into spoilers on the story or everyone who shows up. I will, however, note the Batman presence is minimal.
As you play through different chapters, the free companion app featuring the Joker will instruct you when to open various envelopes or boxes. Each chapter sets up the next part of the story, often with video components, and then getting into puzzles. You’ll use the AR features to help solve puzzles often, but not every time. I found the various puzzles got more challenging as the game continued, and I turned to hints more often as I progressed. If you get super stumped, you can skip a puzzle to proceed. I had to do so once.
One puzzle in particular utilizes a timer, adding much-appreciated stakes to gameplay. For many things, you can work at your own pace. While the timer did stress me out slightly, it was for an appropriately tense situation.
The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City has many points in its favor, but the biggest is definitely its design, including the sounds and music. This game overflows with attention to detail. Case files, puzzle pieces, packages—it’s a whole lot of surprise and delight for a game set in Gotham’s gritty streets. If you’re the kind of person who likes opening presents, this game brings that type of joy chapter after chapter. Pay close attention to every scribble and every piece of art; Easter eggs abound, as do little character touches. You could easily turn game components into collectible display items.
A few small things to keep in mind for The Arkham Asylum Files:
- If you want to repack the box for future replays, have a letter opener on hand for the many envelopes and boxes.
- Take the recommendation about setting up on a surface you can navigate around seriously. You need room to look at the buildings and board from various angles, especially if you use an iPad instead of an iPhone.
- I recommend splitting game play into chapter-long sessions. It gives your brain some time to rest. For the most part, each chapter has a satisfying conclusion. The final chapter is a little underwhelming as far as activities, so I’d plan to play chapters six and seven at the same time. If you do split up gameplay, you should ideally set the board and buildings up somewhere you can leave them. However, I had to pack my game away after each chapter (I left the buildings assembled) and it was not the end of the world.
I played The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City with one other person. I’m glad I did—I would have found playing by myself to be too much of a challenge. Even with two people, we finished the entire game in roughly seven hours, split between six sessions. With its creative use of AR paired with a stack of tangible elements and an engaging story, The Arkham Asylum Files is an immersive must for game night.
The Arkham Asylum Files: Panic in Gotham City is available from Infinite Rabbit Holes now.