I’ve always been a sucker when it comes anything connected to the Chinese novel, Journey to the West. There’s just something about it that intrigues me to no end. Just about every game released that ties into the book, I have to check out. Which lead me to play Unruly Heroes, a title that I had heard about before, but had fallen off my radar. Now that I had the chance to play it, I’m glad I did. 

Game Name: Unruly Heroes
Platform(s):  PC (reviewed), Switch, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Magic Design Studios
Developer(s): Magic Design Studios
Release Date: January 23, 2019
Price: $19.99

This game shares the DNA of a platformer I enjoyed in the past, that being the Rayman series. Which makes total sense as several members of the Magic Design Studios team once worked at Ubisoft. As such, they’ve brought with the stuff that made Rayman such an enjoyable title. Plenty of which I can see in Unruly Heroes. 

unruly heroes boss battle -01

You have control over four different characters, all of which have been plucked from the Chinese novel; Sanzang the wise, Wukong the fearless monkey (my favorite), Kihong the greedy pig, and Sandmonk the sensitive brute. Each character has a unique moveset and abilities that you’ll need to utilize to traverse through levels. Some characters can glide, others can double jump, gliding, while others have better attacks. You’ll have to swap between each character in order to proceed and finish the stages. They also have a life bar, that when completely spent, will cause that character to die. Thankfully, after a few moments, a bubble with the character’s spirit will appear on the screen. Striking that bubble will return them to your line-up and you’ll be able to select them again. 

Beyond that, you’ll also take control over varies creatures that will assist you on your journey. One noticeable incident was with when I took control over a wolf. Not only was it vastly more powerful than my default character, but it could also summon smaller wolves. This would even help during a specific boss that would retreat into the background to heal. Instead, the wolves would hamper him from doing so. It’s the little things like this that help push the game over the top.

As a single player game, it forces you to pay attention and not wander off without collecting your fallen comrade. While playing with others, up to three others, is a different story. You can retrieve the player, or let them hover in place. All while you’re getting yelled out or was it pleading, not to leave them out of play. I’d be remiss to say I did this a few times, as it was hilarious and it’s a good way to remove someone who’s not really helping you move through the stage. Well, unless you happen to need that character’s abilities. Sadly, while you can play with other people, it is a couch gaming affair. No online to be found in the games’ campaign, the adventure mode.

Not so much with the PVP mode, which allows both offline and online play. This mode pits you and up to 3 AI controlled or human players, against each other and through several stages. It’s like a simplified version of Super Smash Bros. or Brawlhalla. You pick your character, an alternate form and then attempt to bash everyone out of existence. It’s good mindless fun, but it does get boring after a while. It definitely has some potential and hopefully, Magic Design Studios will keep working on this mode. Such as adding additional weapons, and more buffs. I can definitely see the game getting more attention due to this and it could extend the game’s appeal.

Review: Unruly Heroes - A Fun Platformer From The Minds That Know Platformers

As a platformer, Unruly Heroes has a lot going for it. The stages are engaging and have a nice flow and there’s a plentiful amount of puzzles to solve in them. There’s always something new forces you to adapt. Such as dead spikes, swaying platforms, blocked paths that require a bit of thinking and even some tricky gravity segments. I also enjoyed the boss battles, even if some of them were a bit cheap. However, the game is a bit short and you’ll be able to run through it in a matter of hours. There’s also little reason to replay a level unless you’re trying to collect all of the secrets that are scratched within them. Or gathering enough coins so you can acquire additional skins. For me, I wasn’t really compelled to do so, but your experience may vary.

A requirement for any respectable platformer is good controls. Stopping on a dime, or being able to jump at a moments notice are needed in a game such as this. Thankfully, I found that tight and responsive controls are exactly what this game is all about. The overall design and presentation are also amazing. While the animations are very well done, some of which are downright hilarious. While screenshots won’t do it justice, it’s one of those things that needs to be seen to be appreciated.  However, it also shares many resemblances to a mobile game. which could cause many to overlook the title. Sure, the characters aren’t super detailed and yes, some of the backgrounds are bland – I admit this. However, it’s not always about the look, but the overall package and substance. All of which this game has, that is if you’re willing to give it a shot. 

unruly heroes level completed -01

Since I played this on the PC, I like to give the rundown on what sort of performance you can expect. For me, I played this on a fairly beefy PC, so I was expecting this to run well. However, seeing how this game is running on the Unity game engine, I wasn’t completely sure. Especially since Unity-developed games have been known to be hit and miss in the performance department. Thankfully, this game scales really well. On my testing PC, I was hit a constant framerate at either 1080p, 1440p and 4K. I was even able to run this on a laptop was considerably lower specs and the game was still playable.

On the options side of things, there’s not much here. Outside of remapping the controls, all you can do is change the resolution, enable full screen or windowed mode and adjust the sound options. That’s definitely not seen as a good or bad thing, as having more control over the graphical fidelity in this game isn’t really needed.

My only issue with Unruly Heroes is that number of unavoidable deaths. Due to things such as lowering structures, which doesn’t exactly drop your character, but instead drop and cause a stuttering effect. Swaying platforms and even plunging pillars that I swore never touched me. Or when you attempt to cross a spike-filled pit and you barely make the jump, only to have your character miss the ledge. All which have served to send me to an early demise. I’ve experienced so many of these deaths that it led to some frustration during my time with the game. Definitely not enough to cause me to set my controller down – or to toss it in a rage of fury

Seeing how this is Magic Design Studios first attempt at a game, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Bravo, encore, encore!

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Summary

In the end, Unruly Heroes is a lot of fun as both a game you can just sit back and enjoy with friends and family. It has all the makings of an entertaining platformer, of which you’ll enjoy for hours on end. It also makes for a fun party game, just make sure you’re not drunk – you might die a bit too much. I just wish the game lasted a bit longer than it did. If you enjoy platformers, I’d definitely recommend giving this game a try.

Pros

  • Reminds me a lot of Rayman
  • Tight and responsive controls
  • Multiplayer adventure mode is enjoyable

Cons

  • Cheap deaths
  • No online adventure mode
  • PVP mode could be fleshed out a bit more
Overall
4

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.