Batman is dead and now it is up to the family to keep Gotham safe. Gotham Knights an an open-world action RPG where you take the role of Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood, and Robin to take down a new criminal underworld that is sweeping the streets of this plagued city. Fight in hand-to-hand combat solo or co-op and upgrade your abilities to avenge your fallen comrade and bring hope back to the citizens.
Playing Gotham Knights almost constantly reminds me of the Arkham series, which isn't great because of how much more fluid the latter feels. The movement system feels clunky and slow, which makes parkouring and running around a huge map feel like a chore. You can take out your bike and ride around the city, which is gorgeous, but there are some performance issues with that.
The combat is okay, it does the job, but it feels like some mechanics are missing that could have really spruced it up a bit (like countering), though the animations during combat and finishers are fantastic, especially with Robin. Leveling up from enemies and the perk system is pretty standard, so no complaints there. I believe Gotham Knights has a lot of ideas, the concept is there, but it wasn't executed well and felt that it couldn't live up to the series it can't help but be compared to. And then, we dive into performance on the Steam Deck.
Before I begin, I will say that from updates of the game, SteamOS, and the shader cache, Gotham Knights runs significantly better than it did when we took a first look (which is preserved below). Spots where the game would chug down to 24-25 FPS can now handle a stable 30 with a lower battery drain, which is fantastic. There have also been some improvements to stability with less fluctuations in the framerate graph overall, which again, is wonderful to see. Unfortunately, it isn't enough to save performance completely.
First thing I did was start the game from the beginning again and test using similar settings to before to see how well it had improved. In closed spaces, like the beginning area or the police station, the game performs significantly better than before. Running around the police station and the hub, I was able to maintain a solid 30 FPS with sub 15W battery drain with an average around 13W. This is way better than before when the average was around 17W - 18W.
I also saw some improvements around the city. The framerate held up to 30 more often than before and getting into some fights in confined spaces, like an alleyway, were able to hold the framerate, albeit with a higher battery drain.
This is, unfortunately, where the improvements end. As I mentioned above, this is a big map and getting around might need a set of wheels...but using those sets of wheels can be disastrous. While some areas of the city are less intensive, the majority will see significant slowdowns. I even tested at the lowest graphics quality, FSR 2.0 ultra performance, no TDP caps, and forced a resolution of 800x500, but I would still get slowdowns that would dip to 22 FPS no matter what:
At this point, I felt there was little possibility of improving this, so I found a way to make sure it is as stable as possible without draining the battery too much. From my testing, this was do-able with a TDP limit of 11 and a GPU frequency of 1100. Combined, it balanced the stability of the game with battery drain. You could get rid of the TDP limit entirely and the game would stick to 30 more when running around the city, but it won't improve it enough to where I could justify 24W - 25W drains.
While most of my Gotham Knights playthrough had no visual issues, I did encounter one time where loading into a game gave the rain a bright green color and would shine these blinding lights in my face. I fixed this by quitting to the main menu and loading back into the game, but this happened to me twice and it was pretty jarring.
While I know there wasn't a memory issue here, I did test with CryoUtilities 2 and the UMA change to see if anything would help performance, but I found no improvements whatsoever. Even forcing the resolution down didn't do much to fix the performance. Strangely, there were also spaces that when the graphics options were set to high, the game ran around the same as if it were set to low, but since it did make driving perform worse, I kept the settings on low.
Gotham Knights is a game I have mixed feelings about. While I love the city and how it looks, and I generally enjoy the DC stories, the movement and combat held it back. It is hard not to compare it to the Arkham series, but it's something I feel myself doing subconsciously. If the game had a bit more fluidity to these systems, it would have made a huge difference in how good the game is.
On top of that, performance on the Steam Deck is something left to be desired. While it has been massively improved on, there are still too many compromises to just hit 30 FPS with a significant battery drain. So would I recommend this game on the Steam Deck? Probably not. But is it playable? If you are willing to deal with some drops, decently high battery drain, and a hit to visual quality, then yes, it is playable.
So I played this game a bit and...I can't say I recommend it. It is playable, but barely and regularly dips to sub 26 FPS, even going down to 19 when driving around the city. I put a TDP limit just so my battery doesn't completely drain since Gotham Knights can't handle 30 FPS with no limit at all. I didn't attempt max settings as the game struggles at all low settings with FSR 2.0, so there is no way max is remotely possible.
I would also like to mention that if you want to play online, it seems you have to log into an Epic Games account. Not a huge deal, but it isn't just plug and play for online. I also did crash once and had to restart the game. It did autosave, but was a bit annoying that it crashed at all.
I did try multiple different upscalers in the hopes TAA or XeSS would improve things better than FSR 2.0, but it doesn't. FSR 2.0 at performance is the best compromise for the game looking decent and running the best it can. All in all, if you plan to get Gotham Knights and play on the Steam Deck, don't. There are reports of poor optimization all around and the Deck is no exception.
Our review is based on the PC version of this game.
If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for news, tips and tutorials, game settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back!
Gotham Knights feels like a regression of the Arkham series in both gameplay quality and how it runs on Deck. While recent updates have made it better and more playable, it still can't perform in all the areas it needs to.