It’s safe to say that if a game is going to tackle an age-old story then it had better do it right. Unruly Heroes tackles the old Chinese tale of A Journey to the West and hits the target with perfection and spins it into an exciting, action-packed, multiplayer adventure.
The story of A Journey to the West is almost as old as time, where a monk travels (you guessed it) West to obtain Buddhist sacred texts, also known as sutras. The twist with Unruly Heroes is that a sacred text has been destroyed and scattered across world awaking evil. Therefore our band of Chinese legends (including the infamous Monkey King) must collect and repair the text.
The mix-up to the classic really makes for an interesting twist. The goal at the end is the same but the reason for the pilgrimage is definitely more fitting for a 2D Action/Platformer title as it is an obviously linear goal.
The graphical design for Unruly Heroes takes the hand-drawn approach which I have always found fitting for Action/Platformers. The game is absolutely gorgeous and flows exceptionally well. The hand-crafted element means that the layering of the level is easily distinguishable. It means that it is always easy to tell which parts of the game are meant to be accessible and doesn’t cause confusion as to the direction which you are supposed to go.
Taking up a seat next to the stunning graphics of Unruly Heroes is some stellar gameplay. The main features of control come in the form of light attacks, heavy attacks, and grabs. Fairly standard for an action game, however, during combos you can easily switch between the four characters if you are playing solo to really make for an interesting and surprisingly free-flowing combat system.
As well as having the genre staple attack types you can also build up each characters special meter meaning that when facing against unfavorable odds, you can pull out some flashy shows of ultimate decimation.
I absolutely love the fast-swap mechanism of the game. Not only is it a great way to keep the combat interesting but it means that having multiple usable characters when one is killed you’re not immediately failed. If you are unlucky enough to have one of your characters defeated then you will be followed around by a bubble containing an image of them and once attacked, the lost member will be back in your party. The catch here though is that they will be returned with significantly less health available to them.
Unruly Heroes also has some of the most well-crafted levels I have witnessed in a 2D platformer, but I learned that Magic Design Studios hold a lot of ex-Ubisoft members who worked on Rayman Legends. This is very evident and it is clear to see that the team has used their past experiences and built upon them and pushed their level design another step forward.
Each level is packed full of collectibles, hidden paths, puzzles, and enemies. The puzzles, in particular, are all relatively simple but the wide array means that the developers had the room to get creative. Without a doubt they delivered, from moving objects to using unique powers to navigate and change the world around you, there is no short supply to worry about.
The large variety of elements throughout really leaves you on your toes and scanning the screen meticulously for areas featuring collectibles. The levels throughout Unruly Heroes are vastly unique and no two feel the same. They all flow excellently and really help to weave together a fantastically beautiful world which feels similar yet widely different to our own. Even the enemies help to define the originality of each as the themes progress.
The collectibles throughout the game do not just serve to motivate you to only try for that perfectionistic trait of 100% completion but allow you to purchase new skins for the four heroes. Even though each character is unique in their own way, the unlockable skins available for each really help to differentiate one from another as well as allow you to jazz up the cast.
Not only can you go through the story with a friend but if you feel like breaking the mold, you can jump back to the main menu and play a little bit of player vs player. Here you can use one of the four heroes to take on your friends in a godly rumble across a host of different stages. It makes for a nice inclusion in a game which mainly focuses on cooperation so that you can break up the linear story.
With this fantastic blend of elements, it’s safe to say that the game is worth playing over and over again, whether it to be for that full completion or just for the joy of it. The fantastic story is an absolute blast and the competitive side is also brilliant, albeit quite restricted in character choice.
Unruly Heroes clearly has a theme from the opening title card and up to this point, it has been clearly established. As well as visually taking inspiration from Chinese mythology, it takes audible cues too. Music of a game can really make or break a feel and really set the mood.
Playing Unruly Heroes on the television was a treat for the eyes without a shred of doubt with everything being fantastically crisp and detailed. So what about when it gets scaled down once removed from the dock? There are some obvious differences with just how much you are able to distinguish though this doesn’t take away from the experience provided. Despite the player character being exceptionally small, it is still easy to tell exactly what it is you’re doing on the portable screen.
I was smitten with Unruly Heroes right from the get-go. After my recent exploits (CLOCK SIMULATOR! SERIOUSLY!) I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reviewing another game for the Nintendo Switch. My faith has been restored as it just goes to show that lesser known companies are capable of pulling off feats of this caliber with apparent ease.