Publisher: Outright Games
Developer: PHL Collective
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, PS4
Release Date: 03.10.2023
While Outright Games has only been around since 2016, the London-based publisher has made the most of that time, releasing a long list of titles across a wide variety of famous brands and popular franchises. Even with all of that experience, however, the folks at OG still had to feel at least a little pressure when they decided to travel together with developer PHL Collective into some massive uncharted territory: the DC universe.
After an initial expedition with 2022’s DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace, the dynamic duo are taking on an even bigger challenge this year in DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos, a new co-op action title that focuses on the Justice League themselves rather than their animal pals.
“This isn’t our first game in the DC universe, but putting our creative stamp on the Justice League has been a long time coming,” said PHL Collective’s founder and studio manager Nick Madonna. “We’ve wanted to make a game with these characters for a very long time, and when the opportunity presented itself, we were ecstatic.”
If fan expectations and decades of lore aren’t enough to make someone sweat when trying to come up with a new piece of the DC universe, there’s also the reality that players will no doubt compare your new project to the numerous other video games based on DC’s superpowered icons—some of which remain beloved to this day. Thankfully, instead of trying to replace or replicate the gaming titans we already have, DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is looking to be its own hero.
“One of our goals from the beginning was to present the Justice League in a way that is different than what people have typically seen in media over the last few years,” Madonna explained. “We explored a path that was inspired by Saturday morning cartoons, comic books, and toys—an undeniably cute, bold, and colorful vision of the Justice League that mixes humor and action.”
As a part of that, Madonna told us that his team really took a lot of care in its approach to writing, characterization, and backstory. In all of those areas, and more, the goal was always to find a balance between being approachable to a new generation of DC fans, and “giving the hardcore fans tons of depth that connects the decades of DC comic book history.”
Of course, a well-balanced narrative might not matter if the game itself isn’t also welcoming to a wide variety of players.
“From the gameplay side, we ensured accessibility was always guiding our design decisions,” said Madonna. “This was a hard task, because at the core of a superhero game is a power fantasy. That fantasy is reliant on mechanics that level up the player and grow their abilities over the course of the game.”
In that, DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos looks to offer plenty of fantasy and a whole lot of superpowers. A new and fully original open-world adventure, the game takes place in Happy Harbor, a location with its own unique history in the DC universe. The Justice League visits the town to help celebrate Lucas “Snapper” Carr’s election as mayor, but his inauguration gets interrupted by the arrival of the infamous Mister Mxyzptlk (or “Mxy” for short). Mxy declares himself mayor, calls forth Starro the Conqueror, splits up the Justice League, and unleashes chaos upon the town.
From there, you can head out alone or with a partner to help take down Mxy and bring normalcy back to Happy Harbor. DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos will offer a mix of action-based combat and exploration, as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman use their trademark abilities to take down the creatures that have invaded the city. The game’s lead designer and narrative director Brian Gitlin clarified that while each of the iconic characters will be a force to reckon with solo, they will be much stronger when working as a team.
“Superman uses his raw power to smash enemies into oblivion, Wonder Woman uses her speed and finesse to fight with grace, and Batman brings his vast array of high-tech equipment to level the playing field,” said Gitlin. “These characters are all very powerful on their own, but the true strength of the Justice League is shown when they work together as a team. So, a strong emphasis of our combat is placed on rotating through the three heroes within every fight to inflict the most damage possible.”
But what about the rest of the Justice League? According to Gitlin, once you come across other familiar faces such as Aquaman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and Cyborg, they’ll be able to “join you in combat as a support character, each with their own unique set of abilities and upgrades.”
While the threat to Happy Harbor may be intense and the superpowers epic, DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos will still be an experience that never gets too extreme for any potential player to handle. The teams at both Outright Games and PHL Collective are taking their first shot at the Justice League very seriously, but that doesn’t mean that the game itself always has to be so serious.
“What makes DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos special is the world and the tone we’ve created,” Gitlin said. “The laid-back attitude of heroes combined with our vibrant art style and awesome soundtrack makes Happy Harbor just an enjoyable place to be in. While combat and story are the core of the gameplay, we tried to capture the feeling of being in a relaxing beach town, with the ability to just float around the ocean, drive around town, and relax.”