The story of Journey to the West has been the basis for so many games, movies and TV series now that you’d think the subject matter would have been exhausted, but here’s Unruly Heroes, a platform adventure that shows there’s plenty of life left in the old monkey king.
The most obvious comparison to make when seeing Unruly Heroes for the first time is to the Ubisoft Raymans Legends and Origins games. That’s not altogether surprising given that developer Magic Design Studios is staffed by ex-Ubisoft developers who happened to work on Rayman. As comparisons go, though, it’s not a bad one considering the pedigree.
Like Rayman, you have a story that works its way through the game, adding humour and a little weirdness at times, to the otherwise straightforward platformer by providing the player with a few left turns when they least expect it. There are 4 characters to swap between, all with their own moves and you’ll need to work out which of these to use for the puzzle elements of the game, though all of them seem to fight the same way when it comes to combat.
Levels have some wonderfully different set designs from raging rivers to haunted forests and lava pools, if only the camera would keep up, it tends to have a habit of hanging back a little when you most need it. The backgrounds are fantastic 2.5D creations that make you feel part of a larger world, especially with the large boss battles that are nothing short of impressive. The only problem is that the wonderfully entertaining story is over all too soon. There are collectible coins to aim for in each level as an incentive to go back and perhaps find all the little hidden sections you missed the first time around, so there’s replayability value here.
To add something a little extra, there are multiplayer PvP levels, cut down parts from the full levels which are playable on and offline, plus local co-op as well. They’re not overly significant in scope but make for a nice additional slice of gameplay when the single player story is over.
Going back to the comparisons with Rayman, which is, after all, the pinnacle of platformers, Unruly Heroes feels like an unofficial successor in places but never feels quite as accomplished as the limbless heroes adventures. It’s still a great adventure and considering this is a lower priced indie game, it has some high production values so there’s every reason for platform fans to give this a go.