DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos Review

Tricksy Mxy is at it again

By Paul Hunter

With so many big AAA titles releasing in Q1, it feels like DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos may have gone a little under the radar—but this gem of a game deserves a spotlight. It's a rare title that will appeal to just about everyone interested in the DC universe with its Saturday morning cartoon vibe and modest difficulty great for kids, and its witty story and niche references to classic comic books that older gamers will appreciate. If you're a fan of DC's trinity—Supes, Batman and Wonder Woman—this is a one-of-a-kind action-adventure game you won't want to miss.

Let's don our superhero masks and fly on into Happy Harbor to see what Cosmic Chaos has to offer, here are three things I liked about the game...and one I didn't.

Liked: Great Story, Hilarious Writing

With Cosmic Chaos being an action-adventure title targeting a younger audience, I went into this game with really no expectations for the story. Plus, I had the opportunity to review PHL Collective's DC adaptation last year, DC League of Super-Pets, and that game was heavy on action but light on story. This time around though, the studio has upped their writing chops significantly as Cosmic Chaos' story is stellar.

The tale is set in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, the iconic location where the Justice League’s Secret Sanctuary resides. It begins with ex-Justice League member Snapper Carr set to become mayor of the city when suddenly the trickster from the 5th Dimension Mister Mxyzptlk appears and declares himself to be the new mayor. Mister Mxy (as he's commonly known) also summons Starro the Conqueror, the mind-controlling alien, to wreak havoc across the town while keeping the Justice League busy. Plus he calls upon an army of fish monsters, including funny takes on squids, sharks and fish to also keep the Justice League preoccupied.

Mister Mxy was a great choice for the game's main supervillain as he thrives on creating mischief and mayhem everywhere he goes. Mxy insists his sole reason for coming to Happy Habor is to "annoy" Superman and he refuses to leave until he's sufficiently aggravated good ol' Supes. Thankfully the Justice League has Superman's back, including Batman and Wonder Woman who round out the game's three playable characters. There are plenty of supporting characters as well such as The Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Cyborg. This game is such a fun experience for younger gamers particularly because it's such a great introduction to the Justice League and DC Universe.

Right off the bat, the story makes it clear this is a comedy adventure with Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman all playing fun-loving, lighthearted versions of themselves. Batman is always broody and mopey, not finding any of Wonder Woman or Superman's jokes funny and constantly telling others how rich he is. Wonder Woman is clearly the brains of the operations and comes off as the de facto leader of the trio. Meanwhile, Superman is portrayed as a loveable goofball that unintentionally says the silliest of things. Mister Mxy is similarly hilarious as he conceives of so many ridiculous ways to annoy Superman.

Not only is the story great, but it also has a clear appreciation for DC's vast comic book history. There are plenty of rather obscure supervillains you'll face that only the most diehard DC fans will recognize, plus the story weaves in recognizable characters and locations from throughout DC's history, such as Booster Gold and Wonder Woman’s home island of Themyscira among many others.

Beyond the fantastic writing, the game is fully acted with an all-star cast. DC voice cast veterans Nolan North, Diedrich Bader and Vanessa Marshall reprise their roles as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman—and all do a 'super' job. Meanwhile, Dana Snyder voices Mxy and does an amazing job portraying the silliness of his character. Even the supporting cast sounds great with Josh Keaton and Cooper Andrews reprising their roles as The Flash and Aquaman, while Delbert Hunt and TC Carson once again step into the boots of Cyborg and Green Lantern.

Quite honestly the story and voice acting are so great it's worth playing this 15-hour adventure just for these aspects alone. That the gameplay and graphics are also enticing is the icing on the cake.

Liked: Simple, Fun Gameplay

DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos' gameplay is best described as Diablo-lite, focusing on abilities that have a cooldown and visiting plenty of mini-dungeons to gather the precious loot inside.

While the main campaign is single-player, you'll have full control over Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman and can swap between them with a single tap of the D-pad. Each superhero has one or more ranged attacks, special abilities and powerful ultimates that give you plenty of ways to approach each battle situation. Example attacks include Batman's batarangs and bat drone, Wonder Woman's lasso truth pull and bracelet slam thunderstrike, and Superman's heat vision and cold breath.

As you might suspect, some attacks have elemental properties that can affect enemies in various ways, like Superman's cold breath freezing foes solid or Wonder Woman's Amazon Seige fire arrows causing a burning effect. Powerful enemies and bosses typically have an elemental affinity that you can exploit to cause extra damage. You can also call upon support characters—including Cyborg, The Flash and Green Lantern—to assist you in battle, while also taking advantage of their elemental powers.

Cosmic Chaos does a great job at doling out new abilities over the course of the adventure with each character having a robust skill tree. You'll learn new ranged, special and ultimate abilities that expand your offensive arsenal, plus you can gather loot in dungeons and trade them in to upgrade your abilities. Enemy levels increase as you progress through the game, meaning they gradually get tougher, and I thought your characters' abilities progressed at the right pace to make you feel increasingly powerful, yet still offering a nice challenge.

To further customize your characters, scattered all across Happy Habor are Artifacts of Justice that provide attack or defence buffs. You can equip up to three artifacts per hero and in a neat nod to DC's storied past, the items are typically famous characters' signature gadgets like Raven's cloak, Green Arrow's bow and Joker's fake Bang! pistol.

Beyond combat, your superheroes also have neat traversal abilities to help you get around the moderately-size Happy Harbor map. Batman can glide, Wonder Woman swings with her lasso and Superman can just straight-up fly. Superman's power is obviously the best of the bunch and since you can switch heroes at any time, flying is always your best option. The longer I played the game the more I appreciated how much effort went into crafting the many gameplay systems in this open-world RPG-lite, which certainly exceeded all expectations.

Liked: Cute, Cartoony Graphics

The visuals in Cosmic Chaos are sublime and like a playable Saturday morning cartoon. The vibrant colour palette is easy on the eyes, yet it's the Chibi-style cartoon character models that really steal the show. During cutscenes, you'll see larger and beautifully animated versions of the heroes that ooze personality. Mister Mxy looks fantastic, too, and I laughed every time I seen him wearing the mayor ribbon draped across his shoulder.

Similarly, the combat is superbly animated and makes battles even more fun and exciting. The fish monsters really pop with their colourful purples, yellows and pinks and it's impressive how many animation frames were created per enemy.

While on the topic of graphics, it's awesome that there are actual classic DC comic books scattered all around Happy Habor to find. And even better, you can bring the comics to Booster Gold to exchange them for new costumes for your heroes. The costumes are mainly niche throwbacks to specific DC comics and provide fun little mini-history lessons.

Didn't Like: Limited Multiplayer

DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos includes an 'Instant Action' two-player couch co-op, but in an odd decision this mode plops you and a pal into the map without any real objectives. You can wander around together and beat up fishy bad guys, but without goals to work toward it can get stale after a while. That there's no campaign co-op seems like a major miss as this game would be incredible to play through with family or friends.

The Verdict

Cosmic Chaos' high quality hit me like a batarang out of nowhere. I was expecting a modestly fun, competent action-adventure game for kids but instead, we got a thrilling and engaging superhero romp that DC comic book fans of all ages need to play. The story is top-notch, the gameplay is refreshingly deep and the soft cartoony visuals are a delight to see. Easily one of the 2023's biggest surprise hits so far.

Final Score: 8.5/10 - Great

DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos details

Platform: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: PHL Collective
Publisher: Outright Games
Genre: Action-Adventure
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

A key was provided by the publisher.