Saturday August 6, 2022

With Gotham Knights starting a new era away from Rocksteady’s Arkhamverse, some characters will necessarily be left in the past as the company moves forward toward new adversaries for the titular knights. After Patrick Redding, creative director for Gotham Knights, confirmed during a fan Q&A that there would be “exactly one” question mark in the entire game, it appears that the Riddler is included among the villains not making an appearance in the game, along with Joker and (possibly) Harley Quinn. With Riddler’s trophies and puzzles being among the pillars of the Batman: Arkham series’ exploration mechanics, it would make sense that another villain from Batman’s rogues’ gallery would step in to fill the role of collectible distribution in Gotham.

Gotham Knights features Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Robin fighting to keep Gotham City safe after the death of Batman. Villains such as Mr. Freeze, The Penguin, and the sinister Court of Owls have already been confirmed to be in the game, and there are more still that have yet to be revealed. With this Gotham being one of the largest in a video game, providing more to find than criminals to fight is paramount to ensuring players won’t tire of the game too quickly. Whereas this was the Riddler’s territory in the Batman: Arkham games, a new villain would need to take up the mantle given his absence.

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Batman’s long list of adversaries includes several that could adopt the Riddler’s M.O. of leaving collectibles and challenges across Gotham for the Knights to clean up. These villains (like the previously mentioned Court of Owls causing bigger problems) would need the knowhow to confound the Knights with devious challenges, the resources to place their tasks in areas that any average civilian wouldn’t be able to stumble upon, and a flair for the dramatic to rival the Riddler to even appear on the Knights’ already crowded radar. Even with these restrictions, several candidates are immediately apparent.

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Cluemaster, the supervillain alias of former game show host Arthur Brown, already bears more than a passing resemblance to the Riddler. Both focus on devious puzzles to confound their foes, and neither has any superhuman abilities to give them an advantage. While Riddler was focused on riddles to taunt Batman, Cluemaster’s taunts come in the form of game show quiz questions, alluding to his previous career. These quiz bowl-esque clues would fit in Gotham Knights where the Riddler’s riddles previously puzzled Batman. There is also the possibility of Spoiler, an ally of the Bat-family and daughter of Cluemaster, to make an appearance should he be in the game leading to potential banter between her and her ex, Gotham Knights’ Tim Drake a.k.a. Robin.

Mad Hatter is already well established in the Arkhamverse, and a different version of the character could appear in Gotham Knights. Having appeared in Arkham Origins, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight, Jervis Tetch is already a seasoned pro when it comes to dealing with Batman. With his skill in neuroscience and hypnosis, Tetch could prove an annoying foe should he decide to begin leaving Wonderland-style clues around the city for the Gotham Knights to find. These clues could be as simple as rhyming couplets pointing to a specific location to elaborate mind-altering mazes mirroring some of the Riddler’s later trophy challenges in Arkham Knight. Given that his most recent appearance in Batman: Arkham Knight saw him sending Batman hunting for missing police officers, the jump to seeding Gotham City with collectibles isn’t as much of a stretch as it may originally appear, even if Gotham Knights isn’t part of the Arkhamverse.

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OMACs (standing for either “Observational Metahuman Activity Construct” or “Omni Mind And Community”) are a race of nanotechnology-powered cyborgs created to gather data on all metahumans. Through the Brother Eye satellite, they are able to monitor and record superhuman activity and store it in a database. The ability to see everywhere and everything at once, as well as their ability to activate OMAC sleeper agents in the general populace, would make them a surprisingly suitable substitute for the Riddler in Gotham Knights.

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Instead of the Arkham games’ task of hunting down informants to get information on Riddler challenge locations, finding OMAC sleeper agents could keep the Knights busy all night. Once found, these hidden collectibles could be files or information on other metahumans that get added to the Knights’ database. This would make the work of tracking down each hint more worthwhile, as seeing the metahuman database build-up is much more satisfying than simply solving a riddle and being done with it.

While their connection to Nightwing is yet to be seen, The Court of Owls has been confirmed as the main villainous threat of Gotham Knights. The shadowy organization has ruled Gotham City from the shadows since its inception, and they have their claws in every aspect of Gothamite’s lives. With a reach into the city far beyond anything any previous Bat family foe (even the Riddler) could hope to achieve, they are the ideal candidate to hide clues and collectibles in places that they may have built into Gotham for that very purpose. Instead of finding conspicuously green trophies scattered around Gotham, looking for the hidden owls in architecture or signage could prove a fine successor to the Riddler’s games. Their secret assassins, the Talons (also confirmed to be in the game) could serve similar positions as the Riddler informants in addition to being genuine threats to the Knights.

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Gotham Knights can improve the Riddler aspect of the games. Despite ostensibly being a side character, the Riddler and his challenges made up a major portion of the exploration in the Batman: Arkham titles. His trophies and riddles drove players to explore every nook and cranny of Arkham Asylum, City, and Gotham as a whole. With there only being “exactly one” Riddler question mark in all of Gotham Knights, someone new would need to take up the mantle of seeding Gotham City with a near-infinite amount of collectibles for the Knights to find. While Cluemaster would be the obvious first choice, arguments can be made for Mad Hatter, OMACs, and The Court of Owls itself to take up the mantle and confound and confuse players when Gotham Knights releases this Fall.

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