Magic Design Studios (studio)
28 May 2019 (released)
07 June 2019
It seems nowadays that the assembling of heroes is so frequent that it can be made into its own genre. There’s nothing wrong with this concept at all, after all many great epics are in some way an assembly of heroes (super or just standard) and they band together to fight evil. Lord of the Rings being the prime example. But there’s a right way and wrong way to do this. Gears of War accomplished this format well and a game like Evolve doesn’t. It’s about charm, interesting characters and a great journey. Does Unruly Heroes have all that?
Unruly Heroes tells a story as old as time with good versus evil and a band of oddball heroes coming to the rescue. It’s up to our four Unruly Heroes to venture forth across the kingdom and bring order and to kick evil’s butt once and for all.
That’s it really. It’s simple, to the point and not taking itself too seriously but is a lot of fun. Just like Kun-Fu Panda.
Now as mentioned before, with this type of set up there’s a right and wrong way to accomplish it. Broken down it relies on interesting heroes, a simple yet engaging journey for them to embark upon and as this is a game, gameplay mechanics which incorporates the themes above. Thankfully, Unruly Heroes does most of these things right.
Firstly the game looks beautiful! If you’re a fan of the art styles for games like Rayman, Ori and the Blind Forest and Bastion, then your eyes are in for a treat! (If not, then please leave this review now!) This is a little corny to say but it’s pretty much like watching a painting come to life and display some epic, fantasy action that’s inspired by a combination of Japanese mythology and Asian folklore. Unruly Heroes offers a neat blend of striking visuals and fluent animations, capturing some wonderful environments, character designs and effects. It’s beautiful to look at and when the action gets going, everything looks spectacular.
While the visuals are eye pleasing, the substance of Unruly Heroes lies with its 4 player co-op throughout the compelling campaign. Or for those who aren’t a people person then there is a solid single player mode as well. As an action platformer, it’s vastly enjoyable with some good level design that incorporates neat set pieces, steady flow of combat encounters and new gameplay elements to break up the formula every so often. The pacing keeps going due to these sudden jabs of new life. This can be rather basic from new enemies to something a little more complex such as possessing an powerful enemy and completing various tasks. Unruly Heroes throws a lot of stuff in over its 8 hour campaign but it’s all enjoyable and works with the core gameplay extremely well.
Now one of the big problems I do have with Unruly Heroes sadly is the lack of dynamics between the characters in the story. Our heroes look the part and are led by a pretty amusing Goddess. But they don’t banter or even speak. It’s a shame as we could hear them chat to one another. It’s a little disappointing since we’ve games from a couple of decades ago which show interesting conversations and dynamics between characters inside a story and here, they’re just blank slates.
The next thing which is a problem (nothing major mind you) was the developers trying their best to create both a co-op and single player experience. This is pulled off in most respects but there were some noticeable flaws that popped up.
Playing single player does present an issue that becomes more apparent throughout the game. During the encounters where combat is unavoidable, it seems that the playing field can be a little unbalanced at time. I did find myself on a few occasions having to fighting an overwhelming number of enemies or more so an enemy which felt like a massive sponge yet dealt a fierce amount of damage. But even with one other player this was evened out, as one player could take care of the smaller enemies and the other take care of the more powerful one. Or one could distract while the other deal the heavy blows.
It’s strange as the set pieces and lateral elements feels more focused on a single player game (with co-op play only speeding up these moments) and the combat was designed with co-op first. This can mean if you’re playing alone, you’ll die a fair bit. There was some tweaking needed just to make sure those who like to play alone aren’t hammered or maybe even be allowed to call in an AI partner, even for a short timeframe.
Unruly Heroes also manages to offer some replay value with unlockable skins you can purchase with coins found in each level. Then there’s the artwork to collect through the campaign too which adds a little something extra for the end.
But despite some flaws, Unruly Heroes is a very engaging and colourful action/adventure game. It looks absolutely stunning and has plenty of neat ideas to create epic set pieces and meaningful co-op play for the most part. However if there was a sequel (which I do hope there is) then maybe giving some personality to the heroes themselves would be a good start on righting some wrong. A bit of balancing for single player and maybe just a little more depth on combining hero elements in co-op that makes more thoughtful and fun lateral elements.
Still, worth checking out!
++ Beautiful visual style
+ Plenty of neat and varied gameplay elements
+ Co-op is very engaging
- Single player displays some balancing issues in combat
- Characters are interesting and lack any personality other than their appearance
A PS4 review copy of Unruly Heroes was provided by the publisher for the Purpose of this review