Unruly Heroes is a side-scrolling action platformer developed by Magic Design Studios, which is made up of some former Ubisoft employees with ties to AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed, Ghost Recon and Rayman. The game has been out on PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch since January of this year, but has now made its way onto the PS4. It features a loose retelling of Chinese literature classic, Journey to the West. with the result being an enjoyable and challenging experience with a few niggles here and there.
The narrative features a rather legendary tale. The sacred scroll which maintains harmony in the world has been torn up and scattered to the winds. As a result, strange creatures have begun to inhabit the land, stirring up chaos wherever they go. It’s up to a group of four ragtag heroes consisting of Wukong the fearless monkey, Sanzang the wise, Kihong the greedy pig and Sandmonk the sensitive brute, to journey westward, gather the pieces of the scroll and defeat legions of evil creatures.
The story is a nice setup for the journey that players have in front of them. There isn’t a ton of dialogue throughout the game, but what’s present is usually a humorous bunch of lines with a certain degree of success. A lot of the time, players might find the humour to be a little hit or miss; some bits of dialogue will make you snigger, while others are just downright cringeworthy and sometimes come across as being a bit forced.
The gameplay in Unruly Heroes is a combination of side-scrolling platforming with frenetic combat. You control four different heroes during your journey, each with their own moveset and the ability to switch between them on the fly. There are some similarities such as two of them being able to double jump and the other two being able to glide, however, aside from this, they mostly feel quite unique. Each character is also able to interact with certain shrines, allowing them to perform specific feats in order to solve puzzles. It all works really well and the control system is simple enough for almost anyone to pick up and play, mastering it is another story. The bosses littered throughout the levels also put up a decent fight, adding to the overall challenge of the game.
There are also a host of varying gameplay elements that come into play as you progress through the 29 levels on offer. Elements such as taking control of enemies you’ve defeated in order to progress is one of the ways it mixes up the gameplay. It shows great design and manages to make for a fresh and enjoyable experience. It’s quite a meaty adventure too, with the 29 levels taking well over 5 hours to complete.
Aside from just navigating the levels and defeating enemies, there are coins to collect. These can be used to purchase skins for the four characters. Scrolls can also be found in a level and unlock artwork for players to view. It’s a decent incentive to explore every nook and cranny in order to find coins and scrolls that might be hidden off the beaten path.
Combat is an exciting affair with players being able to deliver one attack or a deadly combo. Air attacks are available for use for some of the trickier airborne enemies, in addition to a special attack that can be used when you’ve built up enough energy. If the challenge of Unruly Heroes proves to be too much for one of your characters, it’s as easy as hitting their bubble to bring them back into the action. This can happen a few times in a level especially when a group of enemies attack you at once, but it’s an aspect that never feels too frustrating.
The game features the ability to play with a friend, but only locally. This is great since many games seem to not feature a local co-op option. However, there’s no online co-op included, which honestly feels like a missed opportunity.
Unruly Heroes is absolutely gorgeous. It sports hand painted environments and characters and runs incredibly smoothly even when the screen is filled with a host of enemies. The soundtrack is also top notch, being relatively quiet and haunting during platforming sections and then ramping up when facing a group of enemies or a boss.
Unruly Heroes is pretty fantastic. There’s a lot of content to be played here and the game looks and feels great. The approach to level design and puzzle solving is creative and keeps the gameplay fresh and doesn’t really become a victim of repetition. Some of the dialogue can be a little hit or miss and the lack of an online co-op component is a little disappointing. However, Unruly Heroes is great for almost anyone to pick up and play and it’s a lot of fun from start to finish!
Unruly Heroes is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch and is developed by MAGIC DESIGN STUDIOS