If you miss the Rayman 2D games, the Magic Design Studios have a lot to offer you. The people from Ubisoft Montpellier, who had a hand in including Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends, prepared a gift for fans of bright, fun platformers – the debut project for the studio Unruly Heroes. The name of the game is stupid, but the content will delight over three dozen levels.
The developers were inspired by the Chinese novel “Journey to the West”, and this, by the way, is not the first game based on the work of an unknown author – the creators of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West also took it as a basis, although they rewrote a lot. In the Unruly Heroes, the setting was preserved, and the main characters: the king of the monkeys Wukong, the monk Xuanzang, the pig Bazi and the strong man Sha Sen. Together they will have to make a long walk to the west (although most often they move from left to right) in order to collect fragments of torn sacred parchment.
This is not a metro test, from which many might already be tired, but a purebred platformer. You can go it alone and with one or several comrades on the same screen. In the first case, you have to switch between different characters on an ongoing basis – both because of the unique skills possessed by the characters and in the event of the death of one of the group members. There is no need to fear death here – a hero who has fallen into the abyss or has been hammered by opponents will fly around the survivors in a bubble that bursts with one blow and resurrects a partner with a small amount of health.
Abilities are useful for solving puzzles, and just to move through the levels. Only two characters can make a double jump, but the rest can soar in the air, pushing off from the ground or platform. In some areas, there are statues, which can only be activated by characters whose images are carved from stone. The monkey creates a bridge covering rain from arrows or dangerous spikes with traps, and the pig inflates and flies up.
During the passage, the feeling constantly arises that the authors wanted to make each level unique and come up with as many different mechanics as possible. Often such a venture ends in failure, but in Unruly Heroes, everything worked out. Surprises await at every step – at one moment you destroy flimsy structures with the help of a huge swinging ball, in the other – you float along the river on a log, dodging piranhas, in the third location you suddenly move into some creature and you can do what is usual heroes can only dream of.
The game does not get bored for a minute, then offering funny puzzles or intense episodes with chases, then confronting the four with unexpected opponents. The battles with intermediate and main “bosses”, which usually take place at the end of the level, are worthy of special praise – the creators made them completely different, and, even if there is nothing outstanding in them, far from every independent studio could realize so many interesting ideas.
In addition, the game has no replayability. At each level, a bundle is hidden, for which concept art is unlocked in the main menu. And for gold coins, which are sometimes difficult to reach, you can open bonus costumes for all characters. They do not greatly change their appearance, mainly repainting in other colours, but it still makes sense to look for secrets and not leave any suspicious hole in the wall unexplored.
A road full of dangers
Holy parchment maintained a balance between the worlds. After its destruction, the balance was broken, and terrible creatures broke free. To prevent the world from plunging into darkness, heroes will have to fight with hundreds of opponents, and for a long time these fights usually do not drag out. Some enemies throw spears, others are armed with shields, others fly over their heads and dive or spit.
In most cases, it is easier to fight with any single hero, but it is much more interesting to switch between them depending on the situation. A pig, for example, may briefly inflate and inflict damage on its carcass to several opponents, most of the heroes are trained in long-range attacks, and not everyone can make blows from the bottom up. Because of the rapidly emerging bubbles with dead comrades, it is almost impossible to fail fights, so it is not necessary to pay much attention to different techniques. But fighting will be especially fun if you look into the combat system and use combinations.
Unfortunately, there were some flaws in Unruly Heroes, and they are connected with management. Or rather – with the platform component. Characters can not only jump from one object to another but also cling to the edges and climb this way onto the platform if it was not possible to jump to it by the usual method. It just doesn’t always work correctly, and such episodes sometimes turn into a lottery – once you manage to catch on without problems, and after restarting in the same place, the hero refuses to do it, even if you jump higher.
Because of this shortcoming, some moments became more complicated than they should have been. I fell into the abyss, losing one of the heroes, waited for him to fly in a bubble, repeat the procedure again or even twice – simply because the game misunderstood my actions. However, this is one of the cases when it would not be entirely fair to lower the estimate. First of all, there were not so many such episodes, and I didn’t have to spend a long time sitting around for a long time. And secondly, the game has too many positive qualities.
You can scold and the local PvP-mode, which does not look quite appropriate and resembles a very simplified version of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. You are unlikely to play it with friends instead of some full-fledged fighting game, and you probably don’t even want to look for opponents online after the first two matches. It’s not about the combat system, which is quite good for multiplayer fights, but that this mode is not the main one here, and the project is niche. It is a pity that in PvP online there is, but the main storyline campaign can be held only in a local co-op – the authors explain this with technical difficulties.
But these are trifles, for sure you would not have known about the existence of multiplayer if I had not informed about it. Unruly Heroes is a wonderful, beautiful platformer, replete with interesting ideas and reminiscent of Rayman, Trine and other games loved by a wide audience. I doubt that he will be able to win the same fame (especially in the absence of marketing), but I definitely do not recommend him to pass, especially if you have someone to go with him.
Pros: colourful picture in the spirit of two-dimensional Rayman; levels are full of new ideas and constantly surprises; four different heroes with their skills; interesting battles with “bosses”; rich combat system, in which it is not necessary to understand, but knowingly fighting is more fun.
Cons: Characters do not always cling to platforms, although they must do this; PvP is unlikely to live long; lack of online co-op.