Review – DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos
In an era where, for the most part, licensed gaming isn’t as reviled as it used to be, it boggles me that we haven’t gotten a proper Justice League game outside of the Injustice games, and those are already ten and six years old. DC and Warner Bros aren’t necessarily ignoring their source material, with the underrated Gotham Knights and the upcoming Suicide Squad game being textbook examples, but I have no idea why they haven’t decided to make a Justice League game up until now, or at least one that isn’t made out of Lego blocks. It took Outright Games, the family-friendly publisher focused on licensed games aimed at children, and PHL Collective to come up with a solution/compromise. This is DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos.
It almost feels surreal to play a Justice League game in 2023, especially one that is as colorful, cheerful and happy go-lucky as Justice League: Cosmic Chaos. Maybe I grew up too accustomed to the Snyder DC Cinematic Universe, as well as the latest Batman movie, but I forgot how silly and colorful the whole DC superhero universe actually is. I like how Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is a change of pace, taking advantage at how ridiculous and easy-going this universe is in order to come up with the most saccharine and family-friendly superhero game I have ever seen. Yes, even more than the Lego ones.
I will say that I wasn’t expecting for some lesser characters to be integral parts of Justice League: Cosmic Chaos‘ plot. The villain isn’t Darkseid, or the Joker, or Lex Luthor. Nope, they went with the fourth wall-breaking Mr. Mxyzptlk, which, honestly, is a perfect fit for a laid-back take on the source material. He invades Happy Harbor, the game’s open setting, with the sole objective of annoying Superman. Yep, he even says so. No world domination, no Anti-Life Equation – he’s just here for the lolz. Granted, he does this by summoning Starro (the starfish monster from the last Suicide Squad movie), and other villains like Bizarro and Clayface show up, but the entire venture doesn’t have massive stakes. That was for the best, I’d say.
Having a more esoteric villain in a game meant for kids might sound counter-intuitive, but Justice League: Cosmic Chaos does a good job at introducing its plot and characters with an excellent animated intro, which has way better production values than your usual Outright Games intros. It was a great set up for the game itself, although one thing slightly disappointed me right from the get-go: the amount of playable characters in a game revolving around the freaking Justice League.
You have three schmucks at your disposal: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Many other characters show up, such as Cyborg, Flash, Aquaman, and even Booster Gold (who?), but they take secondary roles, be it in the form of “summonable allies”, or, in the case of Booster Gold, acting like a shop inside the Hall of Justice itself. The three characters you can play as have their own special abilities and stats, with Superman being overpowered, Batman relying on gimmicky weaponry, and Wonder Woman being faster, with lengthier combos at her disposal. But it doesn’t make THAT much of a difference at the end of the day. Remember, this is game made for children, it’s not particularly difficult, even it does include a “very hard” mode.
In essence, Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is an isometric action game with minute RPG elements. You can level up and improve your stats, but everything is very straightforward. Remember, the demographic won’t care about a game full of numbers, stats, equipment, and everything else that was featured in Gotham Knights. What they will like, on the other hand, is the combat. It’s simple button mashing, which sadly suffers from a bit of input lag, but it’s still pretty easy. Each superhero has two special attacks as well, and a dedicated health bar. That means that, in case you’re playing as Batman and keep getting pounded by a boss, you can swap to Wonder Woman on the fly, and enjoy a full health bar.
It’s not a deep combat system… at all. This is for kids, so boss battles are easy, enemy encounters are menial, and health pickups aren’t exactly hard to come by. The combat, however, is just part of what Justice League: Cosmic Chaos has to offer. After all, this is still an open world game, and there is a sizeable amount of collectibles to find. You’ll want to collect comic book pages in order to trade for new costumes, including more esoteric stuff like the actual costume from The Dark Knight Returns, and the first Detective Comics suit from the 30s.
I feel like this is more exciting for the parents than the kids themselves, but I did appreciate the inclusion. As for the rest, the open world is fun to explore, but there’s not a lot to do in it. Weirdly enough, you can jump into some vehicles and drive around the map, in the most family Grand Theft Auto has ever been. Kinda pointless, that’s for certain, but it never ceased to amuse me. I could even run over enemies with the Batmobile or some random passerby’s sedan.
More often than not, we know what to expect from the presentation in these games published by Outright Games. Rarely do they feature jaw-dropping visuals or high-profile voice acting, but I’d say Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is a pleasant exception to the rule, especially regarding the latter. Some famous voice actors are present in the cast, with Nolan North doing a pretty funny Superman. Granted, the game doesn’t know how to properly measure the right amount of quips thrown at you, but considering the target demographic has a much lower attention span than us boring adults, I guess this is a smaller issue.
All in all, color me impressed, Justice League: Cosmic Chaos was actually quite fun. Is it too simplistic? Yes. Is its combat beyond shallow? Yup. Did I dislike the fact I only have three playable superheroes at my disposable? For sure. With all that being said, it was pretty hard not to fall for such a cheerful presentation, with some high quality voice acting, and an open world that was just fun to full around as a cocky and pun-loving Superman. It’s actually one of the best Justice League games released in years, if not the best, since Rocksteady is wasting its and our time with a Suicide Squad game nobody truly asked for.
A bit too simplistic, like something that wouldn’t exactly push the boundaries of what the PS3 is capable of, but it’s really colorful and cheerful. The animated cutscenes were also excellent.
The shallow combat system suffers from some input lag, but the overall game is so easy that its core audience won’t exactly notice the issues.
The music isn’t very exciting, but the voice acting is actually pretty good. With that said, the game throws quips onscreen way too often.
Fun Factor: 7.0
Not a very exciting action RPG for grownups, but a surefire hit for a younger audience into superheroes. It’s funny, it’s cheerful, it’s accessible, and it’s full of content.
Final Verdict: 7.0
DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC and Switch.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos was provided by the publisher.