The newest title to land on our review pile at the moment is the 2d platformer from Magic design studios by the name of Unruly Heroes. Heavily inspired by the famous Chinese novel, a Journey to the West, the game sees you take up the role of 4 heroes (Wukong, Sanzang, Kihong and Sandmonk) as you fight, traverse and explore 29 different levels across 4 worlds to stop the darkness that encroaches upon the land.
The games key story points open from the moment the game gets going, with beautiful art work showing pieces of the sacred scroll that, when once whole, maintained the balance of the world come crashing down from the skies with the narrative explaining that dark creatures appeared in there wake with said creatures leaving only destruction with only the small band of heroes you will be playing as standing to fight against the tide. These first few moments feel like some teaser trailer for a major game or film reveal and could easily build some suspense or become the building blocks for a epic tale, I however felt this dipped of a little as soon as it switched from a telling of a epic to attempted humor that then seems to recur as you progress. Now I’m not saying this is bad writing on the developers part in fact It caught me of guard and caused a small chuckle however it utterly destroyed any sense of the threat it initially built up.
As stated above the games art work is one of my favored points with this title, everything from the environment’s to the characters and back drops mesh perfectly to create a beautiful game world thanks to the hand drawn visuals and seamless transition between animations. There seems to be no noticeable lag, input or frame rate issues, even with the more “busy” or hectic sections of game play. This makes the combat to traversing objects about as smooth as you can get.
Much like the visual aspects of the title, the game also boasts good audio. With fitting tracks and precise delivery, good variety of sound effects and ambient sounds working in unison to bring the world to life. Even having a loading screen that allows you to play one of 4 instruments depending on the button pressed. It is relatively short due to the titles decent load times, but the interactive load screen was a nice touch I couldn’t just ignore.
Game play is made up of traversing across Unruly Heroes 29 zones, spread across 4 worlds. These zones are littered with obstacles, Traps, Enemies, bosses and more to overcome, each of which have their own way of approaching. Getting around each stage sees you use one of the heroes to move left, right or jump/glide your way to the next area, and requiring you to switch between the four often to tackle each new challenge before you. Each hero has their use, for instance Wukong can double jump while Sanzang can glide across larger gaps and Sandmonk can smash certain rock pillars.
Combat is another key part in progressing through the zones and at times can be a little intense with alot of things going on at once. This often includes enemies, blockades, traps and switches all going off at once making it easy to become a little overwhelmed. When you first encounter a fight or something new, a single false step can lead to the teams downfall. I must point out a key factor in this was the ability to dodge, in all likely hood this would make a key difference in these instances, however I seem to have had a issue I can not explain. After testing, the dodge would not respond at times – even setting me back 3 minutes on one run as my character refused to dodge through an obstacle (waterfall) in one zone. Oddly enough however it did work sometimes, and even had the same issue on a second controller tested just in case. Ultimately however, I gave up on attempting to dodge at all – unless I utterly had to.
Each of the zones take around 6-15 minutes, give or take depending on skill (and dodge working) . Playing the game start to end would take around 7 hours to finish the main story, possibly longer due to some level of replay-ability. This is thanks to collecting coins to unlock each of the heroes 4 skins or scrolls to unlock the games artwork. There is also the reward of getting medals based on your time bronze, silver and gold on easy, with normal having emerald and finally hard having diamond. Your adventure to the west can also be enjoyed with friends thanks to some local co-op and online PVP, or so I’m told/lead to believe. While it is indeed true the option of PVP is offered, it isn’t without issue. Matchmaking seems to be broken for the most part, with what felt like almost 2 hours worth of time spent waiting in the lobby for other heroes to join. I feel the mode could have left a good impression, but the netwroking issues didn’t allow it to shine.
In summary the team over at Magic Design Studios did a good job at creating a beautiful hand drawn world, much like that of Rayman Legends, though it may not be as child friendly given the chaos of some areas, it stands as a decent single player side scrolling platformer I say single player due to the network issues I had, taking up 1/4 of the games playtime, to yield no results. The use of heroes and the artwork manage to set it apart from a number of its competition, but I feel the story became less remarkable, or indeed memorable, due to the path it took for its delivery. Overall I’d have to say its a solid platformer for people who need their latest fix, but there are better choices out there for those new to the genre.
Beautiful audio and visuals
Use of multiple heroes keeps things fresh as you play