Outright Games publishes a lot of great licensed games for kids. But if I’m putting it all out on the table, I’ll admit that as an adult, playing a Paw Patrol title with my six-year-old can be something of a chore. I’ll do it with a smile on my face, but I’ll also find myself looking around the room at clocks, cats, socks on the floor. Anything to entertain my mind when the action on the screen gets a little too monotonous.
That’s why DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is such a treat. I introduced the game to my son and then handed him the controller. Before long, I was demanding the controller back so we could take turns playing. Cosmic Chaos is surprisingly funny – even for adults – and the gameplay was strong enough to entertain both of us through the amusing and well-written campaign.
Cosmic Chaos starts with a shockingly good cut scene that feels like it was lifted directly out of a Saturday morning cartoon (and frankly, if they assembled this cast and a team of writers to create a cartoon, I would watch it). At a BBQ in Happy Harbor, the Justice League is confronted by the sudden appearance of Mr. Myxlptlk. “Mixy” is an imp from another dimension who shows up on occasion in the DC Universe to irritate the heck out of Superman and his cronies, and as every good comic book fan knows, the only way to get rid of him is to trick him into saying his own name backwards.
Mr. Myxlptlk pronounces himself mayor of Happy Harbor, and immediately summons a bunch of fish people to wreak havoc on the town. For good measure, he also brings Starro the Conqueror to the party, who immediately mind controls the majority of the Justice League. Only the holy trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are left to clean up the town, free the gang from Starro, and get rid of Mixy.
This involves a lot of wandering the top-down open world and beating up bad guys. Shockingly, the gameplay in Cosmic Chaos reminded me more than anything of Diablo; you explore the map bashing baddies, but there are a lot of hidden gateways around that lead into smaller, instanced areas. The entire map is laced with secrets and fun interactions, and treasure chests dot the landscape with just enough frequency to make them fun to discover.
Players can switch between the three primary heroes on the fly, though they all play very similarly to each other. Each of the three has a primary attack and dodge, and a number of specials that can be swapped in and out as they are unlocked. These specials can be upgraded using various materials found in chests and enemy drops, and occasional looted gear can be used to assign elemental properties to a hero’s attack. All very Diablo-like, as I said. There are even five(!) difficulty settings that players can toggle is the game is too easy.
Quests (usually in the form of a wild demand from Mixy) drive the player ever outwards, and are deliciously silly. In fact, the whole game is a fantastic reminder that much of the core material in the DC Universe was created with kids in mind; it doesn’t have to be all grimdark to be entertaining. As someone who prefers the lighter weight CW DC shows over many of the heavier films, this goofball approach really tickled me. I particularly enjoyed the unlockable costumes for the heroes, which dig deep into comic book history to provide some awesome looks. The Kingdom Come Superman with grey hair? Stellar.
Normally in games of this type, I eventually mosey on into the options and turn the volume on the voices down to zero, to keep from having to listen to then endless barks of the characters as they fight through hordes of enemies. In the case of Justice League: Cosmic Chaos, that would be doing yourself a horrible disservice, as the writing in this game is fantastic, and the characters are performed by some of the best in the business.
The creators of DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Crisis must have dropped some serious coin indeed to secure this cast, and it was well worth every penny. Nolan freakin’ North leads the cast as Superman, with character veterans Diedrich Bader and Vanessa Marshall voicing Batman and Wonder Woman. The banter between the three is a hysterical delight.
But the secret weapon here is Dana Snyder as Mr. Mxyzptlk. This is a video game performance for the ages, with Mixy flinging off non-repeating one-liners and non-sequiturs that are wildly entertaining. The rest of the cast is equally impressive, all recognizable veterans of animation and gaming. I mean, they got Terrence “T.C.” Carson to be Green Lantern. This man was Mace Windu on Clone Wars, for goodness’ sake. Respect.
While the game is deeply impressive and amusing to play, all is not entirely well in Happy Harbor. The biggest miss here is the lack of ability to play through the campaign with multiple players; the game absolutely screams to have two (or three) player support, as running through the story Ultimate Alliance-style would have been a blast.
Instead, Cosmic Chaos provides an “Instant Action” mode. This is a very weak half-measure, which allows two players to run around Happy Harbor with fully leveled characters who have all of the gear, skills, and goodies unlocked. There is no advancement in this mode, and therefore no meaningful reason to engage with it. My six-year-old was happy enough to explore and beat on some fish people, but I was immediately bored by the mode and quickly steered us back to taking turns in the campaign.
I also had some pretty Switch-specific issues with the game, which doesn’t run terribly well on Nintendo’s hybrid system. The frame rate can really start chugging when the action heats up, and while it isn’t a total disaster, it is somewhat distracting. Things improve a bit in handheld mode, but with a game of this nature, I exclusively wanted to play it on the TV to share it with my son.
But really, despite the technical issues, Cosmic Chaos is a fantastic buy, especially if you have a little gamer to play with. The quality of this game is well above the usual made-for-kids fare, and adults will likely enjoy it just as much as the kids they are playing with. Any way you look at it, DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is a banger. More like this, please, Outright Games.
Diablo-like gameplay, hysterical writing, a AAA cast, and a winning story all combine to make this one of the best kid-appropriate games of the year. Some technical issues mar the Switch version, but this game is still miles above what you might expect. Get Cosmic Chaos for your kid, but expect to take the controller yourself, as the game is just too good to sit and watch.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, PS5, PS4, PSVR, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host Spielberg Chronologically, where we review every Spielberg film in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
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