In 1989 I was witness to something amazing in the comic book world, DC Comics decided to create their own version of “What if,” it was aptly titled “Elseworlds.” These stories put famed DC characters into much different settings than they were use to. Some of the early ones involved the Wayne’s finding Clark Kent instead of the Kent’s, but the first one was Batman taking on Jack the Ripper. The graphic novel was named Gotham by Gaslight, and saw Batman in an 1889 Gotham instead of the modern Gotham we know today. Written by Brian Augustyn with art by Mike Mignola of Hellboy fame I was mesmerized by this tale and have loved the “Elseworlds” series ever since. It turns out in the early 2000’s a game developer by the name of Day 1 Studios had an idea to turn this tale into a game for the Xbox 360 and PS3. However Warner Brothers never gave the studio the rights to Batman and THQ had to shudder the project. Unfortunately all that is left are some screenshots and a tech demo that the developer was trying to use to see Warner Brothers on the project.
From what you can see of this short footage, Day 1 had nailed the steampunk look of Batman and Gotham. Batman’s costume is spot on from the comic book and makes me wish Warner Brothers had green lighted this title. We could have had this AND Arkham Asylum, but instead these so called “business people” made yet another bad decision, just like how they killed the Dirty Harry game. I digress, we honestly don’t know TOO much about what this game was to be because it was scrapped so early in production, but from what we can see from the screen shots as well it looked to be amazing.
Since Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective, I did some of that detective work on the screen shots I’ve been privy too and it looks like Day 1 had a lot in store for the Caped Crusader. Judging from some of the menus and button icons it looks like Batman was to have an advanced arsenal to disable his foes, albeit it would be advanced for 1889. A “Slowmo” button was included, and I can’t imagine how much fun it would have been to tap that button and wail on some guys with the “Bullet Time” option. I’m curious as to what type of grenades I would have been able to fashion and just how cumbersome the flashlight may have been. There were no Duracell Batteries in 1889, how would Batman use this flashlight to his advantage and how would he keep in powered in during the infancy of electricity?
Day 1 was going to pull heavily from the graphic novel, almost making it a perfect adaptation of the source material. Obviously set in 1880’s Gotham, Batman was going to have to tackle his toughest case yet, a pond jumping Jack the Ripper. I’m sure some of the levels would involve the detective work that the Arkham games mastered. Plus, there were plenty of twists and turns in the story alone, where Jim Gordon believes that Batman is Jack the Ripper and sicks the police force on him. That could have been a challenging level, where you have to defeat the police, but keep them from any major damage, so lots of tying up and knockouts. Seeing the cave and Alfred’s usual droll sense of humor would have made this game insanely addicting and fun. It is a shame, once again we lose a game that we all most likely would have bought and been talking about. Let’s hope Rocksteady starts sharing some information on the possible Court of the Owls game they may or may not have been working on.