The LEGO series as we know it today has been running for a long time now, dating back to the PlayStation 2 era with the LEGO Star Wars series. Those games, and subsequent games such as LEGO Batman and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, are all about fantastic adventures as the various heroes, sometimes recreating established stories, and other times telling new, comic book-style stories based on even more exaggerated character personalities and the now familiar LEGO style of humor. But the latest game in the series is trying something a little different, a little more… dastardly.
LEGO DC Super Villains flips the script, this time putting the notorious rogues galleries of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and more of the legendary DC Comics roster at center stage. It even adds an element of player agency with a full character creator, allowing players young and old to not only play as themselves or a creation, but one aligned with the villains at that.
The basic premise puts the villains in the metaphorical driver seat by way of Darkseid, one of the most notoriously powerful baddies in the DC universe. With the power to destroy, well, everything, Darkseid shows up at a time when the Justice League isn’t around. Without the heroes available, the only hope the world has is a ragtag collective of evildoers who realize they can’t take over the world themselves if it’s destroyed. The player, as the “Rookie,” finds themselves in the middle of everything, naturally.
This sort of storyline setup is clever, in that it’s a riff on a premise that’s not uncommon in comic books. For example, we can look no further than the movie Crisis on Two Earths, in which an alternate universe Lex Luthor needs help from “our” Justice League to defeat the Crime Syndicate, or Injustice, in which several allegiances get mixed up throughout the story on either side. Of course, there’s also the infamous Suicide Squad, in which a group of villains are more or less forced to take on suicide missions for the government.
LEGO games are on the sillier side, and that includes the scenarios and characterization of the DC Comics universe. So we won’t exactly be exploring the depths of these characters’ psyches, Grant Morrison style, but we will get to have fun seeing new, heroic sides to characters typically known for causing all kinds of trouble. There will be plenty of characters to go around as well, as LEGO games often have comically bloated playable rosters, so expect to see just as many unused, obscure villains, if not more than the usual classics.
Frankly, it’s great to see not only LEGO and developer Traveler’s Tales try something new, but especially Warner Bros and DC Comics, which are notoriously protective of the long-lasting IP. That’s really what makes these LEGO titles appealing and special for comic books fans, the creative license the writers and developers are allowed to take. With LEGO DC Super Villains, that freedom is all about a story centered around the villains, not just letting players play as them, but doing so in scenarios revolving around them.
Between putting the villains in the protagonist position, and letting the player create their own heel avatar, LEGO DC Super Villains could be what separates the latest LEGO games from the others. The series has arguably struggled to jump out of its niche in recent years, suffering a bit from sequelitis. But with such a novel concept, this could be the kick in the pants the series needs.