There are many Super Hero games available in the gaming scene, but one of the most intriguing of recent times has been that of DC’s Just League Cosmic Chaos, firstly as it is a more family friendly title compared to others and secondly because it allows players the chance to suit up as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
It’s a game that we loved, giving a 4.5/5 in review, but we wanted to know more and so grabbed the Super Hero team at PHL Collective for a chat. It was Nick Madonna, founder and studio manager who led the way.
Hi, please could you introduce yourself. What is your role on the recently released DC’s Justice League Cosmic Chaos?
I’m Nick Madonna, Founder and Studio Manager of PHL Collective, leading the development team of DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos.
For those yet to join the Justice League on their latest adventure, could you tell us a little bit about the game?
DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is an open-world adventure for DC fans of all ages. Players step into the shoes (and capes!) of the iconic Justice League trinity – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman – to take on Mr. Mxyzptlk, a trickster from the fifth dimension, intent on causing chaos in Happy Harbor. The game features action-packed missions, tons of combat, and challenges, as well as single-player and 2-player co-op mode.
This is a huge IP to adapt into a family-friendly title. How difficult was it to get the tone right and ensure it is something a wide audience can enjoy?
The Justice League are legendary comic book and pop culture characters, and we worked closely with Warner Bros. and DC to get the tone right. We wanted to create a Justice League game that would take fans by surprise and present the iconic Super Hero team through a different lens. The team at PHL are fans of these characters and grew up with their stories, toys, movies, and games. It was important that we celebrated these characters and show DC fans that we love them just as much as everyone else.
Stylistically, we saw an opportunity to put a “Saturday morning cartoon” spin on the characters while also making sure they are represented in a true and accurate way that comic fans would recognize. The Justice League haven’t always been a dark, gritty team, and it was a fun challenge introducing the characters in a vibrant and lightheaded style while still keeping them relevant and accessible to fans across the world.
We play up each character’s traits, tone, and relationship and push it in a comedic direction. That’s not to say we’re making jokes about the characters, but we are using a comedic lens to focus on what makes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League tick. What makes them special? What makes them a team? What makes them icons? There’s so much history we’ve integrated into our vision – the game is overflowing with fan service and Easter Eggs.
The DC universe is full of Super-Villains to choose from, what’s the reasoning behind having Mr. Mxyzptlk as the main antagonist? Were there any characters that were off-limits?
Our goal with this game was to feature a main Super-Villain who could add chaos to our game and world and also one that hasn’t been seen in games before. We also wanted to dig into the history of the Justice League and feature a Super-Villain that was key to their early years. Through that exploration, we decided on a great 1-2 villainous punch for the main story. Within the story itself, we have way more than 2 Super-Villains. We’ve packed Happy Harbor with DC favorites and some lesser-known Super-Villains.
What was the decisive factor in limiting the playable characters to just Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman? Did you worry whether it was a risk to bench the likes of The Flash and Green Lantern?
While you can’t play as The Flash or the Green Lantern, it was important to us that they were still in the game. They are essential members of the Justice League and play a part in assisting with missions and progressing the game’s story. In a game like ours where you can swap between characters, we wanted to focus on our main three heroes to make them as polished and accurate as possible.
Can you explain the aesthetic design of DC’s Justice League Cosmic Chaos and how you differentiated the style from other DC projects like LEGO DC Super-Villains?
As I mentioned in a previous question, we wanted to hone in on the “Saturday morning cartoon” style. There’s a lot of Justice League media out there for adults and more core comic fans right now, so we wanted to stylize our game to appeal more to families and DC fans of all ages – of course we still have plenty of content in there that old school DC fans will love, but we wanted to do it in a way that appeals to more audiences and help a younger generation of fans discover this great universe as well.
The fish creature designs and fighting characteristics of the enemies are hugely varied. How did you come up with the various styles?
The fish creatures that are terrorizing Happy Harbor were original designs from the team that fits within the narrative and aesthetic of the game. A seaside town being destroyed by aquatic enemies that spawn out of Mxy’s ears? It makes total sense!
For a game so heavily focused on combat, we needed a wide variety of enemies that all have unique behaviors and attacks that work well with the abilities and fighting styles of our Trinity. Early on in production, our designers prototyped a lot of different aquatic enemies and there were no rules imposed on their designs. We took the best ideas from those prototypes and then iterated on them until we had the compelling set of enemies you see in the game today.
Despite the cutesy style, Cosmic Chaos certainly packs a punch in the brawling department. Each hero has quite an arsenal of attacks to work with, right?
Absolutely! Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have a pretty deep arsenal of attacks that grow and change as you level up. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a lot but the more you play with the Trinity, and level up, the more depth we reveal to the player. There’s a lot of customization that players have access to so they can define their fighting style.
The heroes in DC’s Justice League Cosmic Chaos can be further enhanced through the use of Artifacts of Justice. Could you share an insight into their usefulness?
When we talk about combat customization, Artifacts of Justice are a key element in that equation. We have a large number of Artifacts that represent different heroes and villains from the DC universe that when applied, give the player a passive perk. These perks can be combat focused, loot-focused, or just goofy. The more you stack them and experiment, the more interesting combat becomes.
Beyond the main story, it’s excellent to see a real variety of Super-Villains being used for the side missions, with each focusing on their own narrative arc. Do you have a favourite mission thread and did any other characters almost make the cut?
Oh, that’s a tough question but I think Clayface might be my favorite. He slightly edges out Lobo. Clayface at his core is an artist and our narrative arc paints him as a villain that can be redeemed. Although he approaches life in an evil way, that’s not to say he’s inherently an evil person. He wants to make art and goes about it the wrong way. The Justice League step in to undo all the damage he’s done but also help guide him into a more positive place.
Ensuring the storytelling is delivered convincingly is pretty important, so how did you find casting these roles? It seems to have attracted some big names.
We had a lot of support from Warner Bros. and DC to make sure the roles were perfect – while our game isn’t linked to the DCU, it was so important to the whole team that the characters still had that familiar and memorable feel, which is where our amazing voice actors come in. Working with Nolan North as Superman, Vanessa Marshall as Wonder Woman, and Deidrich Bader as Batman was a fantastic experience. They’re all very talented at their craft and did an incredible job at embodying their respective characters. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that we have great writers on the game too, they did a stellar job at writing the perfect humor for these characters. We’re very proud of how the writing and performances came together.
What does the future hold for DC’s Justice League Cosmic Chaos in regards to DLC? Are more playable characters or missions on the horizon?
We’re really happy with the amount of content, characters, and fun easter eggs we’ve included in the game as it stands. We have nothing to announce right now on future additional content but hope everyone who plays the game sees just how much love and attention has been poured into it.
And finally, if you could only pick one in-game ability and costume to possess as your own, what would they be?
Oh wow – there are two answers here. The funny one: I would pick Batman’s ability to be rich. That’d be nice. The sincere one: I would choose to be Superman. Strength, flight, that chiseled jaw, he’s got a lot going on, haha.
Without question, my favorite costume is The Dark Knight Returns. I am a huge Frank Miller fan and his Batman run was transformative for the character and the comic industry as a whole. It was so important to me, it had to be in the game.
Huge thanks go out to Nick for allowing us some time to throw questions regarding Cosmic Chaos his way.
You can find DC’s Justice League Cosmic Chaos on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S (optimised) right now, downloadable from the Xbox Store. It’s also on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC.