Most superhero games are happy just saddling you with an established character. Spider-Man, Wolverine, Cole McGrath, what have you. Predefined name, face, powers, everything. Which is fine for focused, dedicated stories and gameplay, but sometimes what you really need is putting some personal spin on the whole superpowered stuff, you know?

The bad news, is that there aren’t all that many games which allow you to create your own hero, from the appearance down to the available powers. The good news, however, is that there are still some options available, with a various range of customizability on offer.

So let’s take a dive into…

Saints Row 4

Release date:2013-08-22
Developer:Deep Silver Volition

The Saints Row series is usually associated with over-the-top crime stories, but the tone changed a lot in the fourth installment. It doesn’t take long before you gain access to several superpowers, ranging from superspeed to blasts of energy, many with several effect variants, like an augment to the Stomp power shrinking everybody in the impact radius, and it’s not even the weirdest one!

That covers the superhero bits, but what about the “making the character your own” bit? Well, it is Saints Row, after all, you know there’s going to be a powerful character customization. You can tweak the body proportions, sculpt the face, pick hairstyles, makeup, plus gender and voice. There’s also a ton of clothing options you can assemble your attire from, plus a ton of preset costumes.

Key features
  • Deeply customizable player character’s appearance
  • Several handy powers with different flavors
  • Vaguely cyberpunk/synthwave urban open world map
  • Definitely doesn’t take itself seriously

Midnight Suns

Release date:2022-12-02

Midnight Suns is a rare treat: a Marvel-licensed game with a customizable player character. The Hunter is the child of the game’s villain, Lilith, and they’ve (the gender is up to the player) been resurrected after a few centuries of dead slumber. In addition to basic options like skin color, face preset or hairstyle available up front, over time you’ll also unlock various costume pieces.

That includes traditional superhero masks, fierce face paints, variants of The Hunter’s go-to weapons, and various accessories. In addition to style, you also have a Hunter-specific customizable powerset, split between Light, Dark, and neutral powers, and presented as upgradeable cards. The suits and a certain accessories also come with their own traits, for extra customizability.

Key features
  • Super-powered, turn-based combat against Hydra, spawn of Lilith, and a few villains
  • A large roster of heroes like Nico Minoru, Blade, or Wolverine joining The Hunter
  • Very satisfying card-based system encouraging creative solutions
  • Epic story delving into the mystic side of Marvel comics universe

Freedom Force

Release date:2002-03-26
Developer:Irrational Games

In the flurry of high-profile superhero games, the classics can end up forgotten. Freedom Force is a two-entries-long series of turn-based, tactical role-playing game, putting you in charge of leading an original team of heroes. Although the game has a perfectly sufficient roster of pre-made, fleshed-out heroes, you can create a custom one, in all the Silver Age comics glory.

You can make them whole-cloth, starting with a blank model, picking customizable powers from a huge catalog, and designing a unique costume. The range of ability adjustment is truly impressive and involved picking things like damage types for broader templates. You could spend a lot of time playing around with the system.

Key features
  • A turn-based superhero RPG inspired by the Silver Age comics
  • Deep power customization system
  • A great sequel: Freedom Force vs The 3rd Reich
  • LAN- and Direct IP-based multiplayer

Champions Online

Release date:2009-09-01
Developer:Cryptic Studios

Marvel here, Saints Row there… Champions Online, an MMORPG based on the HERO system tabletop RPG, makes them all pale in comparison as far as cosmetic customizability is concerned. Not only do you get many different powersets, including elemental manipulation, weapon skills, and flavors of magic, but the visual customization range is, frankly, ridiculous.

To start with, you get an unreasonable amount of control over the hero’s body, from musculature to proportions. Then you get to do unholy things to the face…and you’ll spend the next two hours on customizing the costume, including materials, accessories, and more, going piece by piece. You even get to tweak your power for some extra cash. And it’s Free-to-Play!

Key features
  • Many different power archetypes
  • A free-to-play superheroic MMORPG
  • A spiritual successor to the legendary City of Heroes
  • Cartoonish aesthetics

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Release date:2017-10-17
Developer:Ubisoft San Francisco

We started with a cheeky, irreverent game, and we’ll end with one. South Park: The Fractured But Hole is a superhero-themed sequel to a fantasy-oriented The Stick of Truth. This time the kids from South Park are not only obsessed with launching their own cinematic universe, but also experience a very thematic rivalry, mimicking the Marvel vs DC and Team Cap vs Team Stark divides.

You’re playing as the New Kid again, and your customization options aren’t too shabby for a pretty simple game. First, of course, is some visual customization, fitting perfectly in with SP’s art style and the idea that it’s still a kids’ game. As for powers, you eventually unlock access to ten classes, and you can mix and match their abilities to build your own unique power set.

Key features
  • Turn-based grid combat
  • South Park’s satire of superhero movies
  • Perfect recreation of the show’s humor and aesthetic
  • A sequel to the fantasy-themed The Stick of Truth

We do need another hero

This concludes our look at hero sims which offer enough customizability to let you truly make the characters your own. Flexible power sets, customizable abilities, assembling your own costume and general appearance, all that jazz.

Now all that’s left for you to do, is to pick the style that matches the vibe you’re interested in.