Developed & Published by Magic Design Studios – Now available on Playstation 4 – out now on Xbox One, Switch & PC
Unruly Heroes is a stylish platformer set to the timeless Chinese tale, Journey to the West. Almost from the outset it was like playing a successor to the exceptional platformer Rayman Origins. There’s a hand drawn style to the game’s visuals that you just can’t help compare to the limbless hero, and also the under appreciated Child of Light, too. Although the gameplay has more in common with the former, from the choices of different characters, the environments and the steep difficulty spike. The monkey madness begins with a pretty low key introduction to the games mechanics, with the option to choose between four different characters on the fly, Wukong (Monkey), Kihong (Pig), Sanzang (Monk) and Sandmonk (Pilgrim). Between them they have varied abilities which you use in fights and are required for progression throughout the stages. You also encounter NPC’s who fill you in on the story, well mainly the goddess of mercy who charges you with your quest, as well as antagonists who string out their malevolence across each world.
Although most of the level types are what you would come across in the majority of platformers, ie, spikes, perishable platforms, ice etc, it’s testament to the great level design here that Unruly Heroes has some of the best platforming this side of the Mushroom Kingdom. Wall jumping, manipulating enemies and even inflating your pig pal all play a part in getting through the levels and the further you get the trickier and more rewarding it becomes. There are times you have to use the environment to your advantage, such as the ice for doing long jumps across treacherous pits, or throwing an enemy against some spikes, it’s not just as simple as going from left to right. There’s a bit of learning curve once you pass the earlier stages, too. There are several times you’ll come across something which will probably take you a few attempts to figure out, but it’ll click. Different characters unique abilities come in to play too. The monkey can use his weapon to cross big gaps , the monk can break through certain obstacles and so on. You can also play cooperatively with up to three other people through the game, which can get a bit chaotic but also adds a bit more fun.
In addition to the main game there’s also a PVP mode, which comes across as a kind of Smash Bros type clone. You can play as one of the four characters and have up to four players duking it out at once either online or if you’re too skint for online console subscriptions you can play locally as well, with up to four friends if you’ve got that many, or you can make the numbers up with AI characters. For the most part, Unruly Heroes is a great platformer, with a timeless story and some lovely visuals. As with a lot of great platformers, it has its frustrating moments too, but once you get past these, its overall experience is very good. For collectors and completionists, there will be plenty of replayability here, as there’s rewards for finishing levels within certain time limits, finding all the collectibles and coins littered throughout as well as alternate character skins to unlock. It’s recommended if you’re after some platforming action.