I always find myself getting tired of the 2D platformer, it all seems to have been done before and there is very little else that can be done. But this thought is usually stamped out when I play a platformer that does something different and new. The last title that was able to get me back into the genre was Guacamelee; its art style, great writing and superb gameplay pushed games of this ilk to a whole new level. So, my expectations are set quite high, will Unruly Heroes manage to get anywhere close?
The Sacred Parchment that maintained order and balance to the world was destroyed and its fragments scattered across the land. Dark and evil forces prevailed and the world is scattered with monsters that are out to stop you. You play as four characters Sanzang the wise, Wukong the fearless monkey, Kihong the greedy pig and Sandmonk the sensitive brute. Each character is inspired by the Chinese 16th century novel Journey to the West. The comparisons end there and the game comes to life.
Your narrator is Guanyin Pusa or the Goddess of Mercy, she watches over you and at certain points of the game will give you some guidance. Many games of this ilk tend to only feature text to convey the story, but it is fully voice acted to mixed success. Ironically, none of the four playable character have any dialog and it is even difficult to recall their names. You will likely refer to the way they look or their moves. Their moves and designs are quite unique, but you are able to access all areas bar using the special features of each character to progress at certain points.
A simple press of ‘L1’ will swap to the next character, a little odd that you can’t cycle back and forth, it only allows you to go in order. This can be a little annoying when you need a specific character. Thankfully the animations and gameplay are near flawless. Each fighter can attack and traverse perfectly. Coupled with a stunning art style that somehow manages to have a soft hand painted style with a crisp and sharp edge. It melds together seamlessly. All characters, enemies and environments look amazing.
There are 29 impressive levels, all are full of variety and challenge. Obstacles to negotiate and puzzles that are varied and intricate enough to keep them entertaining. The game continually mixes up the missions to keep you engaged throughout. You keep discovering new abilities like possession, so much so, that it would have been great to have some back story for each of the characters, and delving deeper into them. Most stories nowadays lean on you character for the story, the human aspect usually adds more weight to a simple journey or event. I found this to be incredibly lacking in Unruly Heroes. The title of the game focuses on the playable protagonists, but the story is about the enemies and the locations more than anything else.
The end of each stage and sometimes half-way through you face up against some great boss battles and the end of the world a larger battle. All of these are great, some are difficult and other are very easy. This is due to the main feature of swapping between the four heroes. When one dies you can simply select the next one. However, they don’t die permanently they reappear as a bubble that you must pop to reinstate them into the game. If the enemy pops the bubble, then they are out until the end of the game. This allows the game to keep going, but this is also where the mechanic breaks. Stages are designed differently which either require the certain character or the set pieces of a large creature chasing you means the stage is reset when a player dies. I understand why you would have to do it that way, but surely this means that these stages shouldn’t be in a game with this mechanic.
The faults in this game are nit-picky at the most. It looks incredible and plays just as well. Tonnes of variety and it will last you a substantial amount of time. 29 levels with time trials as well as 100 collectable coins in each. You could easily spend 10 hours in this game. Not to mention the PvP mode that can be played locally or online. I was unable to set up a match online, but it really isn’t necessary to enjoy this game. You should play it.
- Replay Value