DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos could be 2023's best Justice League game
We've played PHL Collective's superhero adventure game to see how it is shaping up ahead of its launch next month.
Over the years, publisher Outright Games has expanded and improved its video game offerings with more and more complex and intricate titles. With the games it represents all tailored to younger audiences, this isn't always the easiest river to ford, but it has become clear over the years that the publisher has been working with the developers it represents to produce deeper titles. In the spirit of this, in a few weeks the next big Outright title will arrive, with this being the PHL Collective-developed DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos, and ahead of the upcoming launch, I've had the chance to play the game and to see how it is shaping up.
First and foremost, let me just quash some prejudices. Yes, this is a game designed for younger audiences. Yes, it does have an appearance that would make you think of it as a children's game (with cutesy models and animated cutscenes). But it is not strictly a title for younger folk, in fact it has plenty of areas and lovingly built features and additions that all clearly show this is a charming game for DC fans of all ages.
Playing from a top-down perspective, DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos revolves around the defenders of Earth, who are having to now tackle the threat of a mischievous foe known as Mister Mxyzptlk, a sprite-like individual who is the epitome of chaos. This foe has come to Happy Harbour (which is where the Justice League was originally founded) and has started terrorising the locals and then blaming the trouble on the Justice League, all while teaming up with Starro the Conqueror to divide the team's forces. This ultimately leaves the three playable and seamlessly swappable characters of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman with the task of saving the day, all while other heroes such as Cyborg help from a supporting role.
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While the core concept and the narrative is easy to follow and understand (as this is tailored predominately to audiences between 7-10 years of age), PHL Collective has written the dialogue and roped in a star-studded line of voice actors to elevate the story considerably. Between Nolan North as Superman, Vanessa Marshall as Wonder Woman, and Dietrich Bader as Batman, the cast do wonders to bring this trio to life, and the witty dialogue that is on the nose and doesn't hesitate to poke fun at each character (for example, even without prior knowledge of the hero, the team make it clear that Booster Gold is exhausting to deal with), it all makes for a story that older audiences will struggle not to giggle at often. Bader's sarcastic Batman is my personal highlight.
But the story isn't all that makes DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos fun to play. The combat is deeper than you would expect with a multitude of unlockable abilities, ranged attacks, and combos to master. On top of that is the upgrading suite that adds extra effects to each ability and improves its effectiveness. And then of course the fact that you can instantly swap between the core trio whenever you want, allowing you to go from quick strikes as Wonder Woman, to heavy punches from Supes, to gadget warfare as Bats. Add to this pop-up comic effects (such as Poof! and Wham!) and the extra layer that each hero has an elemental effect to boot, which is incredibly useful for busting through shields of enemies of the same elemental typing, and you get a combat suite that is deep and entertaining for all ages.
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The Fish Monsters enemies and bosses also ensure that you are well entertained in combat, as each will attack in unique ways and will pose unique threats. But if you are finding them too easy or hard to face, you can always just switch to one of the five available difficulty options to suit your abilities - with all of the challenges and even Achievements/Trophies not being difficulty related.
The upgrading suite that I noted is also a little more complex than what you would expect for a children's game. You have to collect a variety of resources and items that can be spent on talent trees to improve abilities, and then there are also other resources to find and collect, including comic book pages, which are vital for unlocking the different hero outfits available in-game - each of which is inspired by a run of DC comic books. Then there are also Artifacts of Justice to hunt for around the world that can each change how a character plays, and refers to a part of wider Justice League lore. For the big DC fans that are wondering what DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is actually inspired by, the developers told us that The Brave and the Bold #28 was a key comic for them when creating this title.
It was clear during my hands-on time that there are similarities to what Crystal Dynamics did with Marvel's Avengers in the cosmetic sense, and likewise the game world reminded me of the Lego superhero games, as in DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos you can explore a vibrant and bright world filled with opportunities, including side quests, lootables, bosses, dungeons, enemy-ridden sewers, and more, all of which will provide ways to level up, gather resources, advance the wider narrative, and earn some new items and goodies. It really does seem like players won't be bored when playing this game.
While I have only been able to explore a snapshot of DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos so far, it's clear that this is much more than just a children's game. The world, the humour, the depth, the DC references, they all come together to make an entertaining and promising looking action-adventure game, one that should be able to entertain all age groups. And while this title won't be part of the DC Extended Universe or Gunn's DCU (I asked PHL Collective just to make sure), the developer has affirmed that it will hopefully be exploring options in the future to bring further characters to the game and to continue this adorable and hilarious video game in the future. Still, before we get to post launch, DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos needs to actually debut, and as of right now the plan is still to do so on March 10 on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch. It seems strange to say, but could this be 2023's best Justice League game? We'll know for certain soon.