Troy Baker steps up to inherit the role previously defined by Mark Hamill with supreme confidence - his Joker is even darker and more twisted. There's a memorable sequence featuring impressionable young psychologist Dr Harleen Quinzel, which captures both Joker's manic intensity and his masterful capacity to seduce and coerce the weak-minded.
This is a less controlled Batman than those of previous games. He snaps at Alfred's advice and pushes thugs too far during interrogations. He hasn't yet found his limits, and is all the angrier for his perceived weaknesses. Origins wisely anchors Bruce's turmoil by focusing on two of his most enduring allies, Captain James Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth. There's no genuine peril for either - we know they turn up alive and well years later - but there are a few nice moments involving these characters, and it's some relief when Bruce finally realises that he can't protect Gotham by himself.
Combat is much the same as previous Arkham games, with basic fights relying on a mix of striking and countering enemy attacks to build up satisfying freeflow combos. Later skirmishes become more challenging with the addition of thugs wielding knives, swords, tasers and shields, each of which requires a different approach. One new addition to combat is a power-up enabled by 'borrowing' tech found on a fallen enemy's gloves. Striking foes will fill a battery meter, which can be spent once full to deal more critical hits and punch through defences.
The younger Batman packs a range of familiar gadgets, including explosive gel, Batarangs and the cryptographic sequencer, but there's a new toy - the remote claw - which can be used to create a zipline between two points or to pull two targets together. Batman will level up as you progress through the story, receiving skill points which can be spent on Close Quarters Combat, Silent Predator or Auxiliary abilities, though some skills and upgrades can only be unlocked by completing side missions.
New to Origins is the Batwing, which can be used to fast-travel between regions on the map - providing you shut down the lookout towers in those regions. Also new is the enhanced Detective Mode, which has you scrubbing through digital reconstructions pieced together using the Batcomputer to find evidence the Gotham City Police Department might have missed.
The most unlikely new feature, multiplayer, turns out to be good enough to be here but forgettable enough to suggest it could just as well have stayed home. Almost entirely unconnected to the single-player campaign, it's a team-based blend of Arkham's predatory stealth and third-person shooting - two teams of three gang members battle for territory while Batman or Robin try to take them all down. Those not playing as either the Bat or Boy Wonder can assume the role of the devastatingly powerful Joker or Bane at points in the match. It's fun, and certainly better than you might expect, but it's hard to see it spawning an enduring community.
Like the hero it depicts, then, Origins feels like a rougher, less confident version of the series we know so well. Never escaping the intimidating shadow of Rocksteady, Origins lacks the polish of Arkham City, but it's a great Knight out nonetheless.
Buying the game? You might be interested in our Batman: Arkham Origins multiplayer tips.
It doesn't bring many new tricks to the table, but Origins is still thoroughly entertaining. It does, however, beg the eternal question - why do these people still insist on living near Gotham City?