To The Axed Cave! Gotham By Gaslight

also by moonlight, the cheats

Gotham by Gaslight – aka Victorian Batman vs Jack the Ripper – was a big deal for comics back in the early 1990s, what with it both transplanting Bats into a new setting and being a self-contained tale rather than the usual unending episodic fare. Sadly it’s been largely ignored in this modern age of ultra high-tech Batmen and Grant Morrison miring poor ol’ Bruce in endless, obtuse fantasy stories about nothing, but a few years ago Day 1 Studios were set to make a videogame based upon this 19th Century superhero. You’ll know Day 1 from FEThreeR, the Xbox MechAssault games and the upcoming PC multiplayer mech title Reign of Thunder, so their heritage perhaps isn’t really in the vein of the quiet, thoughtful oddness of GbG.

Whether or not they’d have pulled it off is something we’ll never know, as it was canned before development started in earnest – but a leaked proof-of-concept animation trailer does suggest it could have been an especially atmospheric steampunk odyssey.

A low-tech Batman in a two-centuries old Gotham, coming off like the glorious bastard son of the Arkham games and Thief. I’d have loved to have played this, partly because the Victorian superhero idea is appealing, partly because anything with a city to explore tends to attract me, and partly because I suspect it would have sidestepped the more openly fantastical elements that the Arkham games somewhat akwardly embraced.

This was unearthed by Siliconera, who have grumpily blocked embedding on their original copy of the video. Youtube to the rescue, as always.

That is one fluttery cape. Not sure whether this would have received a PC release, but it’s sadly academic now. It’s Arkham games for the forseeable future. Although given the ending of Arkham City, a series reboot to another timeline would be one way to bring all the major players back to the fold…


  1. Echo Black says:

    I like these cape physics. Though they’re perhaps a tad too fluid.

  2. Ephaelon says:

    Wow, you weren’t kidding about the flutter.

  3. Ett_1762 says:

    Cancelled, you say? Alright, that’s it: There is no god!

  4. Kdansky says:

    Yes. Sure, we can nitpick the cape for being a bit fluttery and too smooth, but it still looks many orders of magnitude better than any other cape I’ve ever seen in a game.

  5. Echo Black says:

    It moves like jelly, not like a fabric. It looks a bit jarring to me.

  6. caddyB says:

    It’s not “right” but it’s better than anything I’ve seen so far. Granted, I didn’t see many.

  7. Alexander Norris says:

    Cape physics are understandably very important to get right for a Batman game.

    It’s eerie how much this looks like a prototype for the Arkham games, though.

  8. Echo Black says:

    Having it be more rigid and less “spectacular” would look more correct, if indeed more boring. Arkham Asylum’s cape looked more realistic, if less eye-catching.

  9. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Grant Morrison miring poor ol’ Bruce in endless, obtuse fantasy stories about nothing


    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Yeah, I sure hope he’s not talking about Arkham Asylum. That was dynamite.

  10. DrScuttles says:

    At 0:26, there’s another Batman. I’m imagining two Christian Bale Batman voices shouting at each other, and it’s not pretty.

    But then the player-controlled Batman goes and leaps a tall building in a single bound. So I guess he’s not Batman after all.

  11. Jackablade says:

    Un-caped Crusader’s shoulder rigging looks a little peculiar. Nice cape animation though. That would have been a pain in the arse to get right without it clipping through itself and everything else whenever it moved even slightly.

  12. LennyLeonardo says:

    One good thing about Victorian Batman is that a cape seems a lot less silly. Sidenote: is it really Victorian? Did they move the city to England for the books?

  13. Roshin says:

    A pity. Victorian DIY Batman is by far my favorite Batman. The modern Batman is a bit too hi-tech and superhuman for me.

    Awesome cape. Yes, it’s bit fluttery, but no clipping!

  14. InternetBatman says:

    That looks and sounds like it could have been really cool. I like the cape too, it’s a little too rippley, but better than most clothes or hair in games.

  15. wyrmsine says:

    Fun fact: Gotham by Gaslight would later* become the first DC Elseworlds title, a sub-brand applied once the publisher noticed the ridiculous amount of money it made. It’s example would go on to inspire a plethora of alternate universe stories which eventually fed the overall mythos to variable returns.

    Salient point: Re-interpretations are damn hard and a stupid gamble by conventional thinking, so you need either talent with deep love of your brand, or some anomalous modern master right out of the gate.

    * I say ‘later’ because this was before ‘Elseworlds’ became a viable model. At the time, I understand it was something of a thought exercise turned print.

  16. Eclipse says:

    that cape is great.

  17. Just Endless says:

    “Sadly it’s been largely ignored in this modern age of ultra high-tech Batmen and Grant Morrison miring poor ol’ Bruce in endless, obtuse fantasy stories about nothing”

    I am very displeased. Morrison’s Bats is what got me into comics, and to this day, my favorite superhero story I’ve read.

    And Gotham by Gaslight has one villain, ONE other character that isn’t Bruce or Alfred, and a lot of very unnecessary foreshadowing when the MYSTERY HAS ONE SUSPECT.

  18. Oof says:

    Why does he look so fat?

    • Urthman says:

      Cardio machines hadn’t been invented yet. Bruce Wayne can’t even stay in shape without his gadgets.

  19. august says:

    I guess I can see one criticizing Grant Morrison’s Batman work (I love it) but the string of words used here are nonsense.

  20. hypercrisis says:

    i cant believe im seeing grant morrison slated on rps

    ill tolerate the increasingly banal non-sequitars, but this is a step too far. shame

  21. Eric says:

    So it would basically have been Assassin’s Creed but with Batman.

    Since Ezio is basically a murderous Italian Batman to begin with, I guess I don’t have a problem with that concept.

    Though I do want to know WTF was up with the leap-onto-the-roof-from-the-ground moment. Clearly they didn’t get around to implementing the grappling hook.

  22. Gyossait says:

    For crying out loud, why do people mention steampunk when referring to Gotham by Gaslight? It took place in the early 1900’s and that’s it. There are no fancy flying machines with brass windpipes or what have you.

  23. Jambe says:


    Mignola-inspired video game.


    • eclipse mattaru says:

      Now that you mention it, I would have loved to see graphics actually inspired in Mignola’s art style. Going for the usual pseudo-photorealism of every game and their mother’s cat is a particularly sad waste of opportunity in this case.

    • Ben says:

      Full Throttle’s look was partly inspired by Mignola’s art style.

  24. eclipse mattaru says:

    Who sets out to make a Batman game in this day and age? I mean, these guys do know that they *have* to live up to the Arkham games, right? The just can’t afford not to. And there’s a gigantic chance that they won’t come anywhere near. I mean, I wish them all the best, also the animation in the video looks very nice, and I for one am totally behind the concept; but really, there is only one Rocksteady.

    Fingers crossed I guess.

  25. Olivaw says:

    Look I’m sad it was canceled too but fuck you Grant Morrison’s Batman rules.

  26. Axeman89 says:

    Shame. It would have been nice to play as Spring-Heeled Jack.

  27. Ankheg says:

    So. Victorian could beat modern Batman’s ass just by three-flat-high double jumping.

  28. maninahat says:

    Batman should be wearing a massive top hat. Preferably with bat ears on top of the top hat.

    Nice concept.

  29. DrazharLn says:

    The video is an animation concept piece, its probable that the technique used isn’t suited to real time applications like games.