by Amber Hall
reviewed on PC
Unruly Heroes is a puzzle-platformer with settings and plots inspired by Journey to the West, a Chinese novel written in the 16th century. This might seems like a weird place for inspiration, but Journey to the West is actually hugely influential in a lot of stories, including the manga/anime Dragon Ball. Much like the traditional story, the main characters are a monkey, a monk, a pig and a powerful general. Each character in Unruly Heroes has a set of unique abilities and are able to be swapped freely between as you play with a single button.
In general, I'm impressed with the different play styles of each character. From the way they jump to the range of each of their attacks, it's fulfilling to discover which character works best for you in each new situation. For example, Wukong, the monkey character, felt the best to move around levels with for me, but Sanzang, the monk, had really effective attacks to use against flying enemies. Because you can switch characters on the fly, it's never a chore to switch characters based on new situations. This is especially good for a player like me who tend to stick with what's given to me. Rather than remaining Wukong the entire time, the game slowly coaxed me into learning each character.
Switching characters quickly isn't the only way Unruly Heroes encourages learning each character, however. Each character has their own health and special attack bar to manage, but death isn't overly complicated or frustrating. Rather, when a character's health is drained, the player can revive them by attacking a bubble that represents that dead character's soul. Moreover, there are some puzzles where a specific character's powers are needed to progress, and so the player is always driven to learn more about each character.
These special abilities are used to create some interesting puzzles throughout the platforming and fighting sections of the game. They're usually pretty simple, and I think that the combat is really where the game shines, but the puzzles are fun to tackle regardless. This is because Unruly Heroes really creates interesting ways in which each special ability interacts with another character's abilities. This makes traversing the areas interesting beyond the eye candy offered in each unique area.
And let me tell you, Unruly Heroes has some beautiful levels. There are six levels in each world and not one of them feels the same as the one before: the way each level is played always feels different. The game is constantly keeping the player on their toes as it introduces new enemies, new ways to traverse levels and different bosses to tackle. Each level is detailed and their themes are carried out well. Although the game plays in 2D, it does well to make the world around you feel much bigger than it actually is with dynamic backgrounds, foggy atmospheres and larger than life statues and temples looming in the distance. It's this bit of eye candy that really draws me into a level. The only aspect of the game that sort of falls flat is its story. It's probably intended to be secondary, but I would have liked if it captured me a bit more with some extra detail.
A Game You Should Try!
Overall, Unruly Heroes is a blast to play! I enjoyed learning each characters' abilities despite tending to stick to one play style in games that let me switch. Being able to switch characters on the fly is the perfect way to coax players like myself into experiencing fully what Unruly Heroes has to offer, and I'm glad that I did. The game always surprises and makes exploring super enjoyable, but with a bit of a stronger story element I think it would have been tied together just a little better.
Beautifully detailed, switching characters is super easy and quick, many different ways to play
The story could be a bit more focused on but doesn't seem like a huge issue