DC’s relationship with the world of video games has always been a bit odd, with a strong focus on renowned characters such as Batman and Superman and little else for other big heroes and villains from their long history of astounding comic books. That being said, some of the best DC games of all time dared to explore the brand’s wide canvas, and there’s a handful worth highlighting.
Of course, many DC video game releases have been nearly as harmful to the brand as kryptonite is to Superman. So, it was our sacred duty to wade through the middling and downright bad titles to return from the Phantom Zone with something worth playing for more than a few minutes. That said, below is our list of the top ten best DC games of all time and it features more than a couple of surprises that will surely cause some discussion.
Need more Superman and Batman in your life? Then check out our guide to the DC movies, ranked worst to best. And if you’re more of a Marvel diehard, you can explore our guide to the best Marvel games of all time and our rundown of the Marvel movies, ranked worst to best.
10. The Death and Return of Superman
- Platforms: Super NES, SEGA Genesis
- Developers: Blizzard Entertainment
In at number 10 we have a bit of an offbeat pick. When we look at retro DC video games, almost everything is either Batman adaptations or middling takes on classic Superman. Instead, we recommend playing through The Death and Return of Superman first. As veteran comic book fans might have guessed, it’s based on the Death of Superman storyline, so it’s 100% a wild ride despite the hardware limitations of 1994.
No high-speed flying in this one, as it was a simple beat ‘em up in the vein of classics such as Streets of Rage. That may not sound exciting for the Superman IP, but the result was rather good, actually. And, of course, playing as lesser-known characters important to this storyline was a big win back in the day. Even now, this game feels like one big anomaly worth studying at the very least.
9. Superman: Shadow of Apokolips
- Platforms: PS2, GameCube
- Developer: Infogrames Sheffield House
This spot goes to another overlooked Superman title: 2002’s Shadow of Apokolips, which was limited to PS2 and GameCube. The cel-shaded graphics, which reflect the look and feel of Superman: The Animated Series, are enticing enough on their own, but they also got the entire Animated Series main voice cast back for a much-needed win after the disaster that was 1999’s Superman 64.
The overly simplistic episodic structure might turn some players off, but adapting the experience of being Superman into video games was never an easy task because of the hardware limitations, and Shadow of Apokolips did something quite interesting and in the vein of the Spider-Man titles from that same era. Yes, it could’ve been better, but the scale, gameplay, and presentation hit their targets with style.
8. Gotham City Impostors
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Monolith Productions
The second “wait what?” pick of our list is Gotham City Impostors, a now-defunct online free-to-play FPS (first person shooter) that ran for a few years, starting in early 2012. It came from Monolith Productions, who are now preparing their return to the DC universe with an open-world Wonder Woman game. Basically, it was Warner Bros. Games’ answer to Team Fortress 2 and other class-based shooters, and its charm and unique take on the Batman IP made it worth playing on and off.
Gotham City Impostors’ biggest problem was a lackluster marketing campaign and the lack of some basic quality-of-life elements that could’ve helped it retain an audience for a longer period of time. Frankly, it was better than many premium FPS that were hot at the time, but perhaps it was too weird for such a crowded market. We honestly loved the idea of amateur Batman and Joker fanboys shooting each other in the face and using gadgets straight out of the Adam West T.V. series and the wackiest Batman comic books.
7. Lego DC Super-Villains
- Platforms: PC, macOS, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
- Developer: Traveller’s Tales
If you’ve burned through the Lego Batman titles (which are great, by the way), then Lego DC Super-Villains is the next stop we’d recommend. All the fun from the other Lego games is here, but applied to DC’s villainous side. Thankfully, it’s not all about the Joker and Harley Quinn. In fact, Lego DC Super-Villains goes really wild with the lore and its strangest characters. There are plenty of unlockable characters such as Scarecrow, Penguin, Ra’s al Ghul, Deadshot, Gorilla Grodd, and many more (270 characters in fact, including all DLC packs).
A customized character depending on the player’s choice was also incorporated into the story, which deals with the most famous villains of the DC universe reluctantly taking on the role of Earth’s protectors after the disappearance of the Justice League. Yup, that’s a pretty interesting premise on its own, and the game itself doesn’t disappoint.
6. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
- Platforms: PC, macOS, iOS, Android, PS3/Vita, Xbox 360, Wii (U), Nintendo 3/DS
- Developer: Traveller’s Tales, TT Fusion
You can rarely go wrong with Lego video games, especially when they work with such fun properties, and Batman was no exception. There are three of these, but we think the second entry is by far the strongest. As the name suggests, more DC heroes and villains were introduced in the second one, but the focus remained on Gotham’s most famous.
There’s a heavy emphasis on exploration and puzzle solving, which makes it one of the best Lego games for casual, chill play (not that any of them are stressful). Moreover, it was the first Lego game by Traveller’s Tales to feature spoken dialogue and an open world, something that would later spread to other Lego adaptations of big IPs.
5. Batman: The Enemy Within
- Platforms: PC, macOS, iOS, Android, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
- Developer: Telltale Games
The Enemy Within was Telltale Games’ second go at the Batman IP after a first season that was just okay. Their signature point-and-click storytelling reached the heights the developer is known for with a bolder sequel that introduced the Joker in an unexpected way.
Much like its predecessor, Batman: The Enemy Within isn’t a good fit for players looking for relentless action, but most comic book readers and fans of point-and-click adventure games with a good dose of detective work should love this one. It’s not often that Batman is allowed to really shine as the world’s greatest detective, and this story’s twists and turns are well worth experiencing either alone or with some online friends (the “crowd play” feature is fantastic).
4. DC Universe Online
- Platforms: PC, PS3/4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
- Developer: Dimensional Ink Games
DC Universe Online has been a fascinating MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) phenomenon for more than 10 years now. Like many other games of the same genre, it fell flat on its face at launch and shifted to a free-to-play model shortly afterwards, something that impacted its early post-launch development plans. However, it quickly regained its footing and has stayed healthy and alive to this day.
In DC Universe Online, players create original characters based on traditional superhero and supervillain archetypes before going out into the world and interacting with several iconic heroes and villains. The core game presents Brainiac as the big bad, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The world is mainly a public space, but raid instances and endgame activities common to the genre are abundant as well. Seasonal events and optional packs of missions and storylines have been regularly added to the game over the years too, so there’s plenty of DC goodness to chew on with this one.
3. The Wolf Among Us
- Platforms: PC, macOS, iOS, Android, PS3/4/Vita, Xbox 360/One
- Developer: Telltale Games
Many lists of the best DC games don’t even consider The Wolf Among Us, but Vertigo belongs to DC Comics, so this adaptation of Bill Willingham’s Fable comic book series 100% qualifies as a DC game. And, once again, Telltale Games delivered a big hit full of twists and a game that is perfectly approachable by anyone, fan of the source material or not.
The Wolf Among Us has been regarded as one of Telltale’s finest titles since its debut in 2013, and we’re finally getting a sequel this year if there are no further delays. The story follows Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of Fabletown, a clandestine community in 1980s New York City that houses many characters from fairy tales and folklore. He must investigate a series of grisly murders that could threaten the entirety of Fabletown. Without spoiling anything, the ending of the first episode alone will hook you in.
2. Injustice: Gods Among Us
- Platforms: PC, iOS, Android, PS3/4/Vita, Xbox 360, Wii U
- Developer: NetherRealm Studios
After the disappointment that was Mortal Kombat vs. DC (2008), Injustice felt like the correct modern fighting game take on DC’s biggest IPs. Injustice took the essentials from Mortal Kombat’s DNA, but NetherRealm was smart enough to make it outgrow their signature game series and allow it to become its own thing.
The powers of each superhero and villain are perfectly represented; the battles feel huge and dynamic despite the strict 2D gameplay. Plus, the story is so good that it shaped much of DC Comics’ output in the following years.
Injustice 2, which arrived a few years later and packs much more impressive tech, felt a bit uninspired and missed the mark with its story campaign. Yet, DC fans will surely appreciate the deeper cuts into the lore and its more ambitious roster of characters.
1. Batman: Arkham series
- Platforms: PC, macOS, PS3/4, Xbox 360/One, Wii U
- Developers: Rocksteady Studios, WB Games Montréal, Splash Damage
It’s hard to deny the Batman: Arkham series is the finest DC can offer when it comes to gaming. From the production values to the overall game design and ambition of each entry, the four “Arkhamverse” entries soar above the competition and could even be considered the best games based on a comic book IP ever – there’s definitely enough greatness in them to make a compelling case. Fans of the series will also be delighted to hear that there will be another game added to the series in 2024 (hopefully) titled Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
Even if you’re not a big action-adventure game fanatic, we highly recommend not skipping these. The atmosphere and presentation alone are fantastic, but the writing and moment-to-moment gameplay (combat, stealth, and much more) are excellent as well. Each game hits the ground running and doesn’t slow down until the credits roll. If you do get into them, please don’t skip WB Games Montréal’s Arkham Origins, which has been terribly underrated for many years and packs the tightest script of them all.
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Fran Ruiz is our resident Star Wars guy. His hunger for movies and TV series is only matched by his love for video games. He got a BA of English Studies, focusing on English Literature, from the University of Malaga, in Spain, as well as a Master's Degree in English Studies, Multilingual and Intercultural Communication. On top of writing features and other longform articles for Space.com since 2021, he is a frequent collaborator of VG247 and other gaming sites. He also serves as associate editor over at Star Wars News Net and its sister site, Movie News Net.