Whenever the Justice League are involved in a DC project, expectations and anticipation levels usually rise, but for DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos it hasn’t quite been the case. Perhaps the family friendly aura, alongside minimal marketing, is the reason its release has flown under the radar slightly. So this is a rallying call to DC fans to pay attention to DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos, because it’s an action-packed brawler that’s a real credit to the franchise.
DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos takes us to Happy Harbor, the original home of the Justice League. The heroes are having a rare spot of downtime with the mayor, enjoying a barbecue, when the mischievous Mr. Mxyzptlk (who’ll be referred to as Mxy) turns up to cause all kinds of chaos and generally annoy everyone. Not only has he brought Starro the Conqueror to the party, but he’s also used magic to kidnap some of the Justice League’s most famous members – Aquaman, The Flash, and Green Lantern. It’s left to the DC Trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to save the day.
With an incredibly cutesy art style and a script simple enough for children to understand, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s nothing here for grown-ups. Thankfully, the developers at PHL Collective have put a lot of effort into ensuring that there’s plenty of silly humour to brighten up anyone’s day. The narrative, including sub-plots, is full of references to please the most ardent of DC fans, but the writing explains such things perfectly for those unfamiliar as well.
While there aren’t a ton of cutscenes, they’re visually pleasing and really catch the eye. The chibi-like characters are excellently designed too, with heroes and villains alike adorning vibrant colours. Throughout these moments and the general dialogue, the voice acting is of a fairly high standard, capturing the personalities of the Trinity greatly – Batman is still moody, which makes the rare times he lightens up even better. A minor irritation arises as a result of repetitive lines during the combat, however it’s not much of an issue.
The gameplay mainly has you exploring the largely free-roam Happy Harbor, via an isometric perspective, in search of dungeon-style areas to clear out and advance the story. That’s certainly the case for the main missions as Mxy attempts to stop the Justice League from rescuing their teammates. Each dungeon area is split into little sections featuring waves of fish minions, culminating in a boss encounter. Occasionally there’s a bit of stealth, which adds something different to proceedings, but the focus is usually on pure super-powered action.
The brawling at the heart of the action is damn enjoyable, due to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman possessing exciting, yet dissimilar, movesets. Basic moves aside, they each possess a focused, ranged, special and ultimate attack. Expect to throw out exploding batarangs, unleash heat vision, create an electrically-charged offensive manoeuvre using bracelets, and much more. Having Batman call in a swarm of bats or a drone is just the icing on the cake for me personally, but that doesn’t mean the other two aren’t blessed with great arsenals.
The fact you can unlock alternative options for most attack types by levelling up means there’s freshness from trying them all out. Switching between the trio on-the-fly to deliver a hellish, and potentially elemental, combo is exhilarating against the toughest foes. Depending upon who you’ve managed to rescue, you could temporarily bring in the other Justice League folk to lend a hand in battle too. To cap it off, various aspects of each character’s moveset can be upgraded through use of coins and a selection of sea-related currency.
The sea theme is present across most facets of DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos, and it fits wonderfully, but it does lead to almost every enemy being a sea creature. Don’t be mistaken, I love the characteristics of the foes such as the toxic blowfish Smogloon and the sluggish looking turtle with great strength known as the Surfcrusher, however I just wish for other kinds of minions to offer something completely different.
Outside of the story-based missions, you can traverse Happy Harbor via gliding, lasso swinging or flying till your heart’s content. It’s up to you what you do. You could go searching for comic book collectables to trade for awesome costumes like those seen in the Dark Knight Returns (the badass ripped Batsuit), Justice League 3000, and even the weird Mummy Crime Fighter costume from Detective Comics #320.
And if you’re not geeking out for those, the Artifacts of Justice might take you over the edge as these have an important place in DC’s history. There’s Raven’s Cloak, Jay Garrick’s Helmet, Madame Xanadu’s Tarot Deck, Plastic Man’s Goggles and Larfleeze’s Orange Lantern, to name just a few. Every single one provides a passive perk of sorts and so you’ll want to seek them all out, before mixing and matching for the best combinations.
Taking on side missions is another great way to spend your time, with a selection of famous villains playing the lead role in these. As someone who has a soft spot for Clayface, his series of missions do not disappoint as the whole story really leans into his passion for acting. I won’t spoil the other names featured, but the narratives here are woven terrifically well into the main arc and the moral of the short tales is one of redemption.
While there’s a lot to praise in DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos, it’s not without its faults. The movement controls are a bit like trying to manoeuvre Bambi on ice, which thankfully only gets exposed as a problem during a game show style segment where a form of platforming is prevalent and precision is needed. Furthermore, a better job could be done with highlighting the side missions on the map and not hiding the tracking or locating of them within the menus. And finally, Cosmic Chaos is way too tight on awarding currency, and so you’ll end up neglecting characters in favour of whoever you use the most.
Despite the cute aesthetic, DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos packs a mean punch and is tons of fun no matter your age. The numerous difficulty options ensure a challenge is to be had for even the most experienced brawlers. What’s more, it’s rammed with DC references, cool costumes, exciting attacks, and dungeons to conquer. Most importantly though, the story is interesting and funny, with a great mix of villains making cameos alongside Mxy. There’s not much to dislike, but the enjoyment factor easily outweighs any issues.
If you need to stop an asteroid, you call Superman, but if you need pure joy in your life, pick up DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos.
DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is available to purchase via the Xbox Store