Over the course of my life playing video games there has been one constant that I will never escape. Like death and taxes, this fact of life seems to be as unmoving as a mountain. The reality is, I am very bad at platformers. Honestly, I am so bad at them that it took me years of my life, maybe even well over a decade to Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, a game I have been playing since I was in elementary school. However, despite my severe lack of skill with the genre, I make an active attempt to pick up platformers from time to time to try them out again in hopes that I will find a game that finally clicks with me. I believe that Unruly Heroes might just be that game.

Unruly Heroes
Publisher: Magic Design Studios
Developer: Magic Design Studios
Platform: Windows PC, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: May 28th, 2019
Players: 1 – 4 Players
Price: $19.99

Unruly Heroes is a mystical story that clearly and proudly pulls inspiration from the Chinese novel, Journey to the West, a story that I am fond of.

After I saw that, I was completely on board for whatever was in store for me, and while the narrative is not very strong in the game, there was enough of a thread to keep me entertained.

The story is rather simple, the Sacred Scroll once was able to maintain harmony in the world, but it was torn to pieces and those pieces were scattered across the land.

Wherever the pieces landed, corruption and evil began to spread. It is up to the cast of heroes to band together and to find the sacred scroll fragment and save the world.

The game has four playable characters, each from the Journey to the West story. Wukong the Monkey King, Sandmonk, a muscular insectoid boxer, Sanzang, a floating monk who is more focused on ranged combat, and Kihong, a Piglike fatman.

While the characters themselves do not have their own interactions with the narrative, they each do have a fun bit of personality that plays out as you play through the game.

As mentioned there are four playable characters in the game that you can swap to on the fly. Each character has their own movesets and excel at one particular thing. Wukong has agility and reach, Sandmonk is a strong brawler, Kihong is tougher to kill, and Sanzang has range to his attacks.

As you play through the game’s 29 levels, you will need to swap between your party members to overcome certain obstacles that only their particular style can achieve.

On top of that, you also gain the ability to take control of certain enemies, giving you yet another way to play the game on top of the four characters in your party. You also can gave new abilities as you defeat bosses in the game such as the ability to air dash.

One thing about the game that I found to be very pleasant is that if one of your party members dies, you can swap to any of the other three. As you continue to play you will see a little bubble floating around and if you hit the bubble, you will gain your party member back.

This means that is not easy to get a game over in Unruly Heroes, but that does not mean that you do not have to play carefully. It just means that you will have a little more breathing room, which in my opinion, is always welcomed.

The other piece of the gameplay is the combat, which is where I had most of my issues. Now, I have said multiple times so far, that I am not the best at these kinds of games, but the combat really fell flat for me. It has a weird, floaty feeling to it, where it never felt like my hits had any real impact on the enemies.

This definitely took away from my enjoyment of the game, but again, I think it can be chalked to my lack of experience with the genre. Despite my dislike of the general combat, I did enjoy the game’s boss battles, while nothing too fancy, they were fun, challenging, and rewarding.

The game also has up to 4 player co-op, but unfortunately, I did not have the ability to try it out for this review. Neither did I get to try out the newly released Challenge Mode.

The graphics in Unruly Heroes are by far the most appealing aspect of the game. The artstyle will feel familiar to anyone who has played games like Rayman: Origins and Rayman: Legends and that is due to the fact that many of the members of the dev team have also worked on those games.

I know it is a cliche at this point, but it truly does feel like every frame of the game is a painting.

It is as if someone took highly detailed concept art and made an entire game in that style. There were multiple points I had to stop to admire the beauty on the screen, and the devs seem to understand that the artstyle is appealing.

This is why the game has a photo-mode, which allows you to pause the game and take screenshots without a HUD. Unruly Heroes is most definitely a visual spectacle that reminds me a lot of Japanese side-scrolling beat-em-ups like Dragon’s Crown.

The sound is fine for what it is. The music and sound effects are perfect for that they need to be. The music is charming, stylized, and never got to a point where I felt like I was getting bored of it. The sound effects are good as well. The only thing that I can say that I might have a bit of an issue is the voice acting.

The voices are okay to decent, and while none are bad or even below average, I never felt like they really stuck with me either. Some of the game’s humor kind of missed its mark with me, but was inoffensive and did not take away from my experience. I did feel like the voices were much quieter than the music or sound effect at times. But perhaps it was just me.

While I came away from Unruly Heroes not feeling like I still have not properly grasped platformers, I, without a doubt, enjoyed my time with the game.

The artstyle, playstyle, music, and dedication that was put into the project speaks for itself. With such a low price-tag, there is very little reason to not give Unruly Heroes a playthrough of your own, be it solo or with friends.

Unruly Heroes was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review copy provided by Magic Design Studios. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 8

The Good

  • The lighthearted adaptation of Journey to the West is fun
  • The artstyle is great, one of the best looking 2D games I have played
  • The ability to swap between 4 characters on the fly adds a lot to the experience
  • The boss fights are fun and challenging.

The Bad

  • The general combat was lacking for me
  • The voice acting was okay at best.
Tyler Valle

About

A video maker, history buff, and college student. Lover of JRPG's and musou games. He's currently enrolled in university and working on becoming an English teacher.