Let's for a moment forget about the mediocre Gotham Knights and the upcoming seemingly subpar Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. After all, as uneven as DC has been in terms of movies, it has actually been great when it comes to games, with Batman arguably being the comic book hero with the most good titles of them all.
Then there are the Injustice games, the Lego franchise and even the hit DC Universe Online, which continues to be popular. With this and our British colleagues' rave preview in mind, it's perhaps not surprising that when DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos arrived on my desk, I quickly grabbed the review code. It spontaneously looks like something similar to Minecraft Dungeons and considering how much I've played that, I was really eager to get started with this.
And the intro didn't make me any less eager. Here the Justice League are chilling in the idyllic harbour town with the very appropriate name of Happy Harbour, when problems from the fifth dimension suddenly appear in the form of Mxyzptlk and his henchmen. He also brings Starro with him and together they take control of almost the entire Justice League. Almost is the keyword however, because Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman escape in the absolutely wonderful and very well animated intro.
This trio then makes up your selectable options in the game, which is surprisingly well designed to appeal to both older DC fans and the children who I have to assume are the main intended audience anyway. My initial thought that the game would be reminiscent of Minecraft Dungeons soon turns out to be reasonably accurate, but an equally good parallel is the Lego games and ultimately DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos feels like a sort of offspring of these two concepts.
Happy Harbour has a lot of exploration to offer and, as it should, there are plenty of secrets to find, including hidden comic books that also give you cosmetic additions, but also fast travel points and more. Exploring is fun, especially since you can do it with other players in co-op, but the world is built on a role-playing premise (there are even side quests) so you may find yourself visiting places you're not quite ready for yet and take some serious punishment for it. Thanks to this, the colourful adventure feels reasonably challenging even for me as a seasoned gamer, while younger folk can also have fun. Of course, there are also difficulty levels to further balance the challenge and ensure that it is always entertaining.
The graphics are very charming and beautifully cel-shaded in a style reminiscent of the kind of cartoons that dominated the 80s and first half of the 90s, and thanks to an unexpectedly well-written story, the presentation is elevated several notches. Combine this with superb voice acting and clever fanservice, such as Batman constantly bragging about his enormous wealth, and you have a real DC treat.
The battles are of course a very central part of DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos, but unfortunately they don't quite measure up all the way through. The problem is that the system lacks real depth and therefore becomes a bit monotonous. The variation in the battles can of course also be complained about when compared to classic beat 'em up, but these were usually only an hour or two long, and had a phenomenal depth of challenge for those who wanted it. Here, the variation is mostly that the different characters have unique characteristics, which doesn't mean much more than that certain characters are automatically better against certain enemies.
Gradually, however, the trio of superheroes gets more abilities and you can choose which ones are active. I personally found Wonder Woman to be a favourite because of her ability to unleash shockwaves that hit enemies around her, ensuring that there are never too many enemies too close to her. Each character also has a super attack to use, which is limited by a timer so you can't spam them. In addition, the members of the Justice League you liberated from Mxyzptlk and Starro can come to your rescue as a sort of bonus attack.
As I wrote above, I actually had pretty high expectations for DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos, even though I didn't think it was a Game of the Year candidate. And I got pretty much exactly what I had hoped for. An entertaining co-op superhero adventure, well-written script, and lots of DC love for all ages. Sure, a deeper combat system and a larger game world would have been desirable, and I can't actually remember a single song from the game's soundtrack - but if you like the Lego games, Minecraft Dungeons, and DC in general, this is a recommendation from me, with my grade (7) being clearly closer to an 8 rather than a 6.