You sort of know exactly what DC Unchained is going to be from a glance at the App Store icon. It'll either be a squad-focused, turn-based RPG, or an all-but-on-rails ARPG. It's the latter, by the way, and it features a whole host of DC superheroes and villains who are battling to try and save the world.
But there's more going on here than in your average mobile ARPG, especially if you're a massive DC comics fan. And even if you're not, this soft launch build shows that there's promise in the meaty fighting and epic upgrading that the game has to offer.
The game sees you building a team of three heroes or villains. There are sort of gray-area characters who can fit on either team as well. To start with you'll have Harley Quinn for the baddies, Flash for the goodies, and someone called Ocean Master for the neutrals.
There's a story here, told mostly in comic-style cut scenes. It's all about an invasion on Earth, and what the heroes and villains do to try and get to the bottom of what's happening. That mainly involves punching people in the face over a series of different levels set in iconic DC locations.
But each character has their own distinct style. Flash's attacks are super fast, sending him bouncing around the screen as he lamps parademons and mutants alike. Harley Quinn skips between fights before whipping out her giant hammer. Batman is stern and heavy and uses a variety of gadgets to get the upper hand.
It makes the game far more interesting than it could be. You want to collect new characters to see what they can do, to see what different attitude and attacks they're going to bring to proceedings. And if you know your various heroes and villains, there's a real thrill when you unlock someone new.
The gameplay itself is pretty standard. For the most part you're going to stick the game on auto and watch the fireworks go off. And there are a lot of fireworks. Flash trails electricity everywhere he goes, and other characters have their own signature style and moves. It might not add anything to the actual play, but it's a lovely touch.
Elsewhere you're dealing with lots and lots of menus, as you might imagine. There are a variety of different ways to upgrade your characters, from cards to coins, gems to other, slightly different gems. Everything is pretty well explained though, and it's never too long before you're back in the scrap.
There are still a few rough edges on the game, the strangest of which is that Wonder Woman appears to be called 'ur' throughout the whole thing, but since this is a soft launch, most of the issues will likely be ironed out before the game hits worldwide.
But the heart of the game feels as finished as it's every going to, and for the most part it plays brilliantly. Sure, sometimes you're not actually doing anything, but this is the most polished DC game we've seen on the App Store yet, and that extra quality shows in everything the game does.
Whether it'll be able to garner an audience remains to be seen, and that's been the stumbling block for plenty of other super-powered games of this ilk. Still, there's a lot to like here, and fans of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are going to play through the whole thing with a smile on their face.