Charming Presentation Helps DC Brawler
Licensed video games aimed at kids don’t have the best reputation because they were often low-effort titles that were rushed to market in order to make a quick buck. However, that isn’t always the case as evidenced by games like SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake. Justice League: Cosmic Chaos definitely has some of that patented licensed game jank, but its top-notch presentation and attention to detail help elevate this basic action game above any accusations of being a cash-in.
Three of DC’s most iconic heroes are at the forefront, as players can control Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Each character can easily be swapped in and out — which works well since it supports local two-player co-op — and offers their own array of special attacks and ultimate abilities, the latter of which are tied to cooldowns. However, the formula for taking down Mr. Mxyzptik and Starro’s minions mostly just consists of a whole bunch of basic button mashing.
Things get a bit better when moves are powered up over time, but with such repetition and a pretty limited move set, it becomes better to simply put the game at a lower difficulty. This makes the game less annoying since the admittedly cute aquatic enemies die more quickly. With a very simple combat loop, there isn’t much here for anyone looking for a more involved gameplay experience, which does make sense since it is targeted at younger gamers.
While such a monotonous core could spell doom for this Justice League game, a well-written story and some stellar voice acting significantly boost the experience. Justice League: Cosmic Chaos features a surprisingly star-studded cast with Diedrich Bader of The Drew Carey Show and Batman: The Brave and the Bold fame doing a great job reprising the Caped Crusader alongside Nolan North’s Superman and Vanessa Marshall’s Wonder Woman. Dialogue is lighthearted and often referential in ways that cleverly poke fun at DC’s history. Dana Snyder’s Mr. Mxyzptlk is a particular highlight, as he walks the fine line between being purposely annoying and hilarious by being simultaneously punchable and a scene-stealer.
Most of the other Justice League heroes are out of commission because of Starro, but players rescue Cyborg, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and The Flash over the course of the game. They then get to join the fray as assist characters and essentially give the player another cooldown attack. They come with their own abilities to unlock, too, thus giving players more of an incentive to explore the game’s reasonably sized open world. The comic book collectibles strewn about also make for solid incentives to search around since they unlock comic-accurate alternate costumes for its three protagonists.
Besides some well-written jokes and gags, such as the trio having to go undercover and Batman wearing a plaid suit with a cowl rather than just being Bruce Wayne, there aren’t many standout moments. Boss fights aren’t all that special and are just regular spongier enemies, and the level designs are often on the plain side, something that clashes with its vibrant art style. It’s a very charming game that just can’t quite get over the hump to be the surprisingly good and memorable title that it wants to be.
Even though its gameplay is basic and the combat lacks depth, Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is propelled by its delightful presentation and wonderful voice acting. The colorful art design is appealing and seemingly aimed at kids, but the surprisingly sharp dialogue and jokes means that it isn’t a dumbed-down title soled for younger audiences. While not an example of a licensed title going above and beyond, it’s certainly a spirited effort and one that PHL Collective put a lot of care and love into.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6.5 equates to “Decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 5 copy for our Justice League: Cosmic Chaos review. Reviewed on version 1.000.001.