The LEGO series is known for immortalizing hundreds of famous characters in LEGO form, everyone from Alfred Pennyworth to Captain Hector Barbossa have all been shrunk down into malleable plastic figures in their own respective games.
While ‘LEGO DC Super-Villains’ sports a cast comparable to any game before it in the series, the main attraction is something completely new.
Meet Ocean Dweller, he’s a brand new character that’s completely new to the DC universe and the LEGO series. He’s something that would be surprising in a game like this if he wasn’t the character I created during my hands-on time with the game at this year’s E3. This villain-focused entry doubles down on the LEGO element by having you build the main character from scratch.
“Nearly all of our games have had a character customizer, all the way back to “LEGO Star Wars”, but its always been a free play thing. Something to do when you finish the game,” TT Games Head of Design Arthur Parsons tells Variety. “This is the first time we’ve had something as in-depth as this where the first thing you do is create a character that will star in your story.”
The character customization options were extensive, rivalring the creation options seen in games like “Prey” and “Fallout 4”. Everything about the brick-person was adjustable, the design on each leg and arm, the weapon, the color and design of attacks, passive abilities, health bar colors, and so much more. I only stepped on the tip of the LEGO iceberg after messing around with the options for little over twenty minutes.
“It’s not just a cosmetic thing, it’s a really meaningful feature we’ve added to the game,” Parsons added. “You can upgrade the character, add new powers, and change them all the way through your journey. You’ll even have a big decision to make at the end based on the choices you’ve made throughout the game.”
I played through a snippet from the beginning of the adventure adventure, which started out with a cut scene interrogation between Commissioner Gordon and Lex Luthor within the Stryker Island prison. Ocean Dweller was introduced a few moments into the scene as someone who would help Luthor spill the beans, but Gordon never got his confession as Luthor’s plan to escape the facility kicked into motion throwing everything into chaos. Leaving us to fight our way out.
The familiar LEGO formula is still here with simple ranged and melee attacks along with the occasional environmental build-the-solution-type puzzle. Progression is tied to the variety of characters in the DC villain catalog, the demo featured folks like Solomon Grundy, Joker, Harley Quinn, and Cheetah who all use different abilities to surpass obstacles.
‘LEGO DC Super-Villains’ holds on to most of the mechanics that have made previous LEGO games great including an open world (with both Gotham and Metropolis), a huge list of characters that get introduced incrementally, and a lot of cheeky humor that makes taking these characters seriously a tough challenge.
Before Luthor could succeed in breaking me and his gang of goons out of prison, the Justice League swooped down to interrupt our escape and put us back behind bars. But before they could finish the job a carbon copy of the Justice League showed up out of nowhere.
“As you see near the end of the demo the Justice Syndicate show up, later in the game the Justice League disappears and Ultraman and his team take up their roles,” Parsons said. “Anyone who knows comics knows that these are bad guys pretending to be good guys, and the villains realize they are up something and set out to stop them.”
So even though ‘LEGO DC Super-Villains’ focuses on the baddies, the overarching story has quite a bit of positivity in it (although Executive Producer Phillip Ring assured me that criminal activity would still play a big part). You can catch Ocean Dweller and the rest of the DC villains when the game releases on October 16th on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.