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Unruly Heroes

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 4 - 2019

Journey to the West meets Rayman.

Familiarity really makes life easier. At its broadest, gamers will know which genres they like or don’t like because of what they are familiar with. However, choices become even easier when a game presents itself with familiar gameplay or a story that the player is familiar with. Magic Design Studios’ action platformer Unruly Heroes manages to hit both of those boxes with a strong Rayman Origins flavour (quite possibly down to members of the team having worked on Rayman Origins), and a story based around the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West, which many of us will recognise even without knowing of the original tale. So, straight off the bat players will have an idea of what to expect from Unruly Heroes, but does it do all of that familiarity justice?

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The story revolves around four characters that head off on a journey to bring peace back to the world. This is in itself a story that has been told many times over, but it is the characters that players may recognise, perhaps most famous being the Monkey King. Those who used to watch the TV show Monkey will be right at home here, and much of the humour from that show, and from the original texts, is replicated in the game to create a whimsical experience that will stay with the player long after the gameplay is finished.

The humour of the game is further enhanced by the most breathtaking visual style. Unruly Heroes is probably one of the most beautiful games on the Nintendo Switch, and it is plain to see how much effort and attention to detail has gone into simply how the game looks. The characters, both playable and adversaries, are highly detailed and move with grace. There is a martial arts theme to the action which allows the characters to move with a smooth determination. The levels are twisty and well though out, offering a very obvious path through, but combined with teasing alternate routes that will undoubtedly lead to something interesting. But the backgrounds are what really shine, giving the entire world a sense of depth and always giving the player something to look at. The use of colour too really makes the game pop from the screen and look great both on the handheld and big screen.

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But pretty visuals alone cannot make for a good game. Unruly Heroes is a platforming game with a healthy dose of combat and a sprinkling of puzzle solving. The big twist here is that each of the four characters has their own abilities and players will be swapping between them as they proceed to use each of these abilities as needed. This in itself adds a light puzzle element as the player will need to work out which character is needed at any given time, but the game doesn’t exactly make it difficult. In fact, the same could be said for most of the game. The platforming is challenging in places but not too difficult, certainly not in the hardcore range. There is plenty of variety to the platforming to keep things from getting tedious, with little environmental twists to keep the player on their toes. The developers really have made the most of the level design to keep players engaged and provide a memorable experience.

The combat can also be testing, especially with some of the boss battles, but again comes up easier than many games. Fortunately, despite using different styles, each of the different characters controls in the same way for the most part, with simple light and heavy attacks, so players don’t have to worry about learning four different ways to fight. Each of the characters also has a special attack that is usually quite entertaining. Some of the encounters can drag on a bit and require some patience, and the combat itself can be quite repetitive. Luckily, the balance in the game, between the different gameplay aspects, is done well enough to keep the player coming back for more.

Adding replayability and some challenge for the completionists out there, coins are hidden throughout each level to collect. These can be saved up to unlock new skins for the characters. The skins don’t actually add anything to the game, but it is a nice reason to seek out extra coins. The player is also ranked on completing a level depending on their time, deaths and coins collected, which is always a nice reason to come back and try to improve. There is also couch co-op which not only makes the puzzles that little bit easier, but also is a whole lot of fun, and a chaotic PvP mode.

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Unruly Heroes is a solid action platformer with a beautiful visual style. Impressive level design and variety, combined with a relatively low difficulty, mean that the game is perfectly suited to platforming fans of all abilities. There may not be any truly unique elements to the game, but what it does, it does well. For nicely polished, highly enjoyable platforming action, pick up Unruly Heroes now.




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