When it was first released, Batman Arkham Origins received mixed reviews. Many criticized its similarities to the Arkham City, the variety of bugs littered throughout, and for generally being seen as a placeholder until Rocksteady released the still unknown Arkham Knight. However, since it’s almost Christmas time I decided to talk about a Christmas game that holds a dear place in my heart, you see, three years ago our old English bulldog Spicy had a puppy named Pancake. He died of a puppy heart attack.

Fortunately I had Arkham Origins to present a world that made sense to me. A world with villains and cruelty yes, but ultimately one where good triumphed, justice prevailed and the concept of something so horrible it’s almost hilarious as puppy heartaches weren’t a thing. And after one of the aforementioned glitches rendered my several hours of progress wasted forcing me to restart the game, I found myself enjoying the game so much that I didn’t play it for three years.

However, after giving it a rapid playthrough I found that it holds up very well and in some aspects is one of the best Batman games released in the last three years, though not without some issues. Even three years later there are still a noticeable amount of glitches. Audio dropping out, enemies shadowcating through walls, etc. It’s also difficult to ignore that WB Montreal pretty much lied about the story promising a focus on underused Batman baddie Black Mask as he hires eight assassins on Christmas Eve to kill a younger Batman only two years into his mission. The Joker soon hijacks this plot, accompanied by a creepy cover of Carol of the Bells.

However, though another Batman story involving the Joker isn’t what most people wanted (especially one without Mark Hamill or Kevin Conroy from the previous games though Troy Baker and Roger Craig Smith do excellent jobs channeling them) the one we got redeems itself in a vital way. Being a prequel we get to see not only the first encounter between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime but the start of Joker’s twisted obsession with Batman told brilliantly through a dream sequence paying homage to The Killing Joke.

Unfortunately, it was 2013 so in a sort of nod to The Dark Knight Rises Bane becomes the second major villain near the endgame. Admittedly this does lead to an intense final boss and classic Joker style lose/lose scenario, but it feels like the game was trying to shoehorn another classic Batman story at the last second. Speaking of shoehorning, the whole assassins plot soon feels this way as three assassins are defeated within the first few hours (two of them on the Penguin ship section that goes on forever) while two of the assassins become to optional side missions.

Though none of these encounters quite reach the brilliance of the Mr. Freeze fight of Arkham City, they are still varied and entertaining with the exception of the tedious Copperhead encounter. That goes for most of the other side missions. Though we get another rinse repeat Riddler mission to hunt down his hundreds of data caches and a few go to this place to blow up this thing missions, there are other missions that involve obscure Batman villains like Anarky and Mad Hatter as well as some interesting murder mysteries that add new and interesting detective segments as you recreate crime scenes with science and virtual simulations.

Furthermore the game is full of wonderful little bits of writing and details to flesh out the world. From Alfred wishing you a Merry Christmas at midnight, the casual chatter among the thugs before you pummel them, to finding a world’s greatest dad coffee mug in commissioner Gordan’ office. However, aside from the detective segments and taser gloves that remove all challenge from fights, gameplay has remained unchanged from City and Asylum. However, this also means we get to keep easy access to switching your gadgets thus encouraging experimentation as well as tonal consistency and a balance between stealth and combat sections. Unlike a certain 2015 Batman game.

So, though it may have glitches it is still playable on all systems. Though it’s somewhat unoriginal it is at least consistently designed and tonally sound. Though its plot is deceptive and somewhat scatter shot it is also intriguing and brilliant in key parts. All in all, it is an underappreciated gem that I hope more people will try to play. Particularly if you or anyone you know has had a puppy heart attack incident. Let it be known that f nothing else Batman Arkham Origins is the best way to deal with puppy heart attacks.