Hero Complex: A Look at Superhero Games

Key Points

  • The best superhero game is actually a trilogy of games.

  • Players create their own hero in City of Heroes.

  • Five superhero games launched in 2022.

Superhero games offer a thrilling way to experience your favorite characters and even offer some original ones. Whether you're flying through the skies as Superman, web-slinging through the streets as Spider-Man, or unleashing your inner Hulk, these games offer endless hours of entertainment. 

While superhero games have been around since 1979, there’s no denying that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) increased the genre’s popularity. Superheroes shine some light on grim reality where they only exist in paperback. They instill a code of honor in their fans and the games let you experience life like one (to an extent).

These games come in all shapes and sizes from epic, open-world adventures to fast-paced action games. No matter your preference, there's a superhero game for everyone.

Best Overall Superhero Game

Batman: Arkham

The best video game in the superhero genre isn’t a single game but a trilogy of games. The Batman: Arkham series reunited the late Kevin Conroy with the iconic Mark Hamil who voiced Batman and the Joker for three decades in Batman: The Animated Series. Arkham Asylum also saw Arleen Sorkin (Batman: The Animated Series) reprise the role of Harley Quinn, but was replaced by Tara Strong (The New Batman Adventures) for the subsequent games after Sorkin retired.

Rocksteady Studios and WB Games Montréal developed the trilogy and released it for various platforms, including PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC.

The series consists of three main games: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and Batman: Arkham Knight. Each game features a third-person perspective and focuses on Batman's combat and stealth abilities, detective skills, and gadgets. The series' signature "FreeFlow" combat system allowed you to utilize the Dark Knight's gadgets and stealth abilities to seamlessly switch between taking down enemies with hand-to-hand combat and gadgetry. It is both fluid and exhilarating.

World of WarCraft Classic mobile start-up screen

In the first game, you control Batman to battle villains who have taken over the titular asylum on Gotham City's island of Arkham. The second game, Batman: Arkham City, takes place in a larger open-world environment where you freely roam Arkham City as Batman. In Batman: Arkham Knight, the final game, Batman faces off against the Scarecrow and other villains who have taken control of Gotham City. You must also confront the mysterious Arkham Knight and discover his true identity.

The series truly puts you in the shoes of the World's Greatest Detective. Rocksteady evenly balanced each game of the series with equal parts detective work and combat-focused gameplay. It's not just the gameplay that stands out. The characters and stories are highly praised for their depth and intricacies, keeping you invested from opening credits to end.

Overall, the Batman: Arkham series is known for its high-quality graphics, smooth gameplay, and deep story. It is a must-play for fans of Batman and action-adventure games. No other superhero game balances as many characters as well as the Batman: Arkham series does.

The Best "Create Your Own Hero" Game

Playing as a pre-established character isn’t the only way to enjoy video games. Creating your own original character from scratch is popular. This is a feature commonly seen in games like Fallout and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) such as World of Warcraft.

There have even been several superhero games that allow you to create your own hero or villain. One such game is DC’s DC Universe Online which allows you to create characters to rival Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

However, no superhero MMORPG is as successful as City of Heroes.

DC and Marvel superhero cartoon characters

City Of Heroes

City of Heroes was an MMORPG that allowed you to create your own superhero and explore the fictional city of Paragon City. Paragon City was populated not only by non-player characters (NPC) but other superheroes and supervillains with all sorts of powers and abilities, too.

The freedom City of Heroes offered during character creation was unmatched at the time. You chose your character's origin which determined your character's type of powers which included:

  • Natural: Your powers come from training or are inherent if you chose a non-human character.

  • Magic: You train in magic or a magical accessory gives you abilities similar to Doctor Strange.

  • Science: You obtained your powers through scientific means whether intentionally or accidentally. Think of the Hulk.

  • Mutation: Your powers come from a genetic mutation and manifest later in life. This is comparable to the X-Men and other mutants from Marvel’s comic book universe.

  • Technology: You use advanced technology to gain abilities like Tony Stark created the Iron Man armor.

There was no shortage of creativity in City of Heroes. It was a highly popular game amongst comic book and video game fans and critics. City of Heroes won many prestigious awards including the PC Game of the Year and Multiplayer Game of the Year award at Billboard’s 2004 Digital Entertainment Conference & Awards show along with Best Online Multiplayer at E3’s Game Critic Awards in 2003.

Unfortunately, City of Heroes was shut down in 2012. 

Best Marvel Game

Marvel has been creating video games longer than they’ve been producing cinematic features for the big screen. Most of those video games have focused on the X-Men or Spider-Man with only one starring the Avengers (until their movie was released in 2012).

Just like the genre itself, Marvel has created a wide variety of video games featuring their characters. Despite the Avengers dominating the big screen, the wall-crawler tops all of Marvel’s video game titles.

Insomniac’s Spider-Man

Insomniac Games developed the next-generation Spider-Man game that fans will remember for years to come. Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, Spider-Man was released in 2018 for the PlayStation 4 and eventually received a remastered version for Playstation 5.

Spider-Man is an open-world game set in New York City. While this isn't a new feature for Spider-Man games, none of its predecessors accomplished it at the same scale Insomniac Studios achieved. You explore the city and its boroughs as Spider-Man by swinging from the rooftops.

There’s an overarching story to follow that brings you face-to-face with street-level criminals and supervillain masterminds alike.

A spin-off title featuring Mile Morales was released in 2020 alongside the Playstation remastered version of the original. Insomniac is currently hard at work on Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 — a direct sequel to the original — that’s set for release in late 2023.

Spiderman crouches on a rooftop

Free Superhero Games

While there are a good number of video games you don’t have to spend money on, there are only a few free superhero games. Take a gander at the list below to see which game you can add to your library without hurting your wallet.

  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance: This is a turn-based strategy game that features characters from the Marvel universe. It is available for play on Facebook.

  • DC Universe Online: This action-packed MMORPG lets you create your own superhero and team up with other players to save the world. It is available for PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

  • Super Hero Squad Online: This is an MMO designed for younger audiences featuring characters from the Marvel universe. It is available for play on Marvel's official website.

  • Heroes and Villains: This strategic deck-building game allows you to build a team of superheroes or villains and battle against other players online. It is available on the App Store and Google Play.

  • Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet: This action-adventure game features characters from the Marvel universe. It’s available for the Nintendo DS and Wii.

Variety of classic video game controllers

Superhero Games in 2022

2022 saw the release of five games alone where that number used to be two. Not all superhero games are action adventures or MMORPGs with a story to drudge through. 

Here’s a list of the games that came out in 2022:


Player First Games worked with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to release the platform fighter game Multiversus. This fighting game directly challenges Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. games except it features characters owned by Warner Bros. Discovery (formerly Warner Bros.). Multiversus launched for PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X on July 19, 2022.

You can choose from 23 different characters who all originate from different Warner Bros. intellectual properties such as Game of Thrones, Adventure Time, DC Universe and many more. There are only 23 playable characters right now, but Player First Games has the entire Warner Bros. portfolio at its disposal to add characters in the future. Several voice actors who voiced their characters reprised the role for Multiversus

Reindog is the only character that isn’t a Warner Bros. original. He’s a character created by Player One Games – the game’s developer. This leaves the door open for more never-before-seen characters to join the extensive roster down the road.

Multiversus received generally positive reviews from IGN and Game Informer along with winning the Best Fighting Game award from the 2022 Games Awards. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

Not all superheroes wear spandex and capes. Some are ninjas in a half-shell and they return to the realm of video games in this classic side-scrolling beat-em-up action game. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge, developed by Dotemu Games, brings back the arcade-style brawler genre. Fans of the characters will remember their ‘90s arcade hit.

Join your favorite pizza-loving ninjas as they fight to save the day against their classic villain Shredder. Whether you're a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise or just love beat-em-up games, this game has something for everyone.

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Released in December 2022, Marvel’s Midnight Suns puts you in the shoes of an all-new character called The Hunter to work alongside a group of established Marvel characters. This role-playing game (RPG) steps away from the science fiction world of the Marvel universe and dives into its supernatural side.

You’re joined by popular characters like Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Doctor Strange as well as lesser-known characters such as Nico Minoru and Magik. You must take on the sinister organization HYDRA as they try to resurrect the mother of demons, Lilith.

Gotham Knights

Gotham Knights imagines a world where Batman and Commissioner Gordon die and Batman’s former proteges take over his role as Gotham City’s guardians. You get to play as Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Red Hood (Jason Todd), Robin (Tim Drake), or Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) to stave off the rise in criminal activity.

Each character comes equipped with their own gadgets, abilities, and fighting style adding depth and value to the game. The replay value alone is intriguing because you can go back and play through it using different techniques. Additionally, you can play with a friend through the campaign with its support for multiplayer. Gotham Knights released on October 21, 2022.

Two superheroes battle for the universe

Marvel Snap

Marvel licenses characters out for new video games to be made all the time, but Marvel Snap is a different kind of game. While most Marvel games are action-adventure games like Insomniac’s Spider-Man, Marvel Snap is a collectible card game (CCG). After a brief period of beta testing, the full game launched on October 18, 2022.

Rather than taking on the specific role of a character, you collect digital cards that feature different Marvel characters and compete against other players. With a deck of 12 cards, you have six turns to take control of two out of three “zones” on the battlefield. The winner is determined by the total power on the cards in each zone. To make things more creative, each zone has a special ability that either benefits or inhibits you.

In conjunction with their power level, each card comes equipped with abilities to help take control of a zone. In complete contrast with other CCGs like Magic: The Gathering, Marvel Snap is incredibly simplistic and easy for anyone to play. Just as fun, too.

Final (Super) Thoughts

Superhero games offer you the chance to step out of your shoes and into the boots of your favorite hero. There’s no shortage of means to experience the thrills of saving the world with so many different game styles. From open-world MMORPGs where you get to create your own hero from scratch to CCGs where you collect your favorite heroes as cards, there’s a superhero game for everyone.

Developers are constantly creating new game engines and graphical advancements in the gaming industry, so you might eventually immerse yourself in a superhero’s world via virtual reality.

Whether you want to dive into the vibrant Marvel Universe with Captain America, the fantastical DC Universe with Batman, or a wholly original world, there’s a superhero game for you. 

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