Its status as the most popular mythology of the land of China is indeed indisputable. Almost everyone in this world, whether they are born from the West or East, seems to be familiar with the legend of the Monkey King – Sun Wukong. So popular that the characters in the story are able to tear apart the heavens without difficulty to become a hero available in almost all MOBA games today, each of which has a different interpretation of the various fighting abilities. Not only that, efforts to adapt it to the big screen also come from various sources, each with a unique style and modification.
So, what exactly is offered by this Monkey King – Hero is Back? Has it become an appropriate action game for you lyrics? This review will discuss it deeper for you.
Present as an adaptation game, the video game version of Monkey King: Hero is Back actually carries a story that is no different from the film version of 2015 ago. The good news? Regardless of whether you have enjoyed the film version or not, the plot itself is simple. You will still be able to enjoy the story.
But for those of you who want the original mythological story here, you should be disappointed. Although the Monkey King shared the same background story – the matter of a magical monkey who had confused the heaven before being locked up by the Buddha himself, the story of his freedom was built from the foundation of the original story which must be admittedly not very interesting. Sakera Sakti in Monkey King: This Back Hero was not awakened by Tripitaka who was looking for the Scriptures in the West. He was actually awakened by a runny child named Lieur.
The little boy who was trying to find these resources accidentally woke up the Monkey that had slept no less than 500 years because of his mischievous actions in heaven. When he woke up, even though he already had enough ability to overcome the monsters that ambush Lieur, he still lost most of his abilities. With guidance from Kwan Im Goddess, the Monkey King, better known by the name Sun Wukong, must prove himself that he has turned into a virtuous monkey. If he can do it, all the power limitations attached to him in the form of a bracelet will be removed.
The first challenge after awakening was immediately appeared before the eyes. Lieur’s village turned out to be battered and overrun by monsters from nowhere. Even worse news? The monster not only hurt the surrounding population, but also kidnapped any small children he met. Moved, Sun Wukong began to act. With his limited abilities, along with the help of a pig stealth named Pat Kai and of course the child – Lieur, he ambitions to save these children.
Can the Sacred Monkey do it? What kind of challenges does he have to face? Who is also responsible for this disaster? You of course have to taste this game to get the answer.
Not AAA Quality
If you hope that Monkey King: Hero is Back will be a AAA quality presentation game, then we have to come up with bad news. For those of you who are not too familiar, it is a small project from China developer – Hexadrive that seeks to harness the momentum of the rise of the Chinese game industry to start entering the non-mobile market. Although many of his presentations are faithful to the version of the film he adapted, especially from the character model he was carrying, this side was arguably not as good as imagined. Because for gamers who are not as familiar as we are, most of the other aspects actually strengthen their status as a game with a limited budget.
One of our biggest complaints, of course, is rooted in the side of the action he is carrying. For a game that offers this genre as the main attraction, hack and slash like this is of course the “life” of the experience of playing should be. But instead of being exciting, fast, and intense, the animated side of Monkey King: Hero is Back’s action actually seems stiff. Repetitive attack animations present, bad camera systems that often make your attacks end up hitting the air, to a half-hearted combination of attack systems that don’t feel satisfying at all. The bad news? Not only come from Sun Wukong, the same problem also occurs and is seen in all the enemies that you encounter throughout the game.
The taste of this non-AAA game also comes from the way they handle the design of the world that you can explore. Each level does come with a linear design with a clear goal, but sometimes it provides a sidetrack opportunity to gather a variety of resources which we will discuss later on. The problem? Unlike many modern games that have been able to build a super wide world with no loading time at all, Monkey King: Hero is Back is still stuck in the past style. That’s right, for every transition you make, even when you enter a small house, you have to pass the time and screen loading first. A really strange design approach.
While in terms of audio, not only music that is not too memorable, it also comes with western voice acting that is so flat and without emotion, especially for the characters Pat Kai and Lieur. There are no emotions that feel well expressed, even in critical conditions. Everything comes out like a text that is only read with modest intonation, without any hard work to take it to a higher level. But at least, for the visual presentation, the cut-scene that he offers is quite appropriate for thumbs up. Both the cut-scene moves or a short story presentation through a slideshow style, all of which give extra special charm to the character or the story he is carrying.
So in terms of presentation, Monkey King: Hero is Back does not feel special. That all the limitations that are seen there, especially from the rigidity of motion and attack animation and the loading time each time the area transition occurs, reinforces the impression that it is indeed a game with a low budget. For a project that is claimed to be an adaptation of a film that is “gaining gold” in China, this is certainly a questionable approach.
Solid, but not special
Mixing an action game does sound like a simple concept, where you only have to program how the character with some kind of attack, which if the enemy will hurt them. If the enemy’s HP runs out, they will lose. Unfortunately, despite the simplicity of a concept like this, concocting an “satisfying” action game is another challenge. You can see how developers of Platinum Games classmates, for example, always inject an evade system, deserve rewards by taking risks when avoiding it, to a variety of cool animations that make each battle feel intense. Monkey King – Hero is Back, unfortunately, actually landed in the first sentence.
Solid but not interesting is the word we chose to describe the action system offered by this one game. Kera Sakti has two types of attacks, strong and weak, which unfortunately are not followed by satisfying combination attacks. The only combination of two-button attacks that you can execute is a weak attack + 1 strong attack at the end, with attack animation that has not changed at all. Monkey King: Hero is Back also does not carry the animation cancel system, so you have to wait for an attack animation to finish first before you can execute the next attack or even just avoid the attack. Coupled with the absence of a lockdown system, every battle feels slow, tedious, and repetitive.
Monkey King: Hero is Back also tries to inject a stealth system that if you successfully execute, will produce large damage or even instant-kill for some types of enemies. Even for a concept as simple as this though, it still contains problems on the design side. There is a level of inconsistency that occurs, where sometimes you can still execute this powerful stealth-based attack even though your position has been discovered by other enemies around. Even worse news? The stealth movement of the Monkey Monkey is also comparatively slow when compared to the enemy walking. Even worse when you want to settle to instantly kill an enemy like a Golem which has a light sensor. You almost always end up being detected because your motion settles is not proportional to the motion of its light sensor which rotates 360 degrees at 2-3x the speed. Do you want to stand and run? This sensor will automatically “catch” you.
The only super interesting thing he has to offer is a magic system where the Monkey Monkey, as told in mythology, has the ability to bring up a variety of different weapons and abilities to overcome existing enemies. By using a specific resource – Magic Bar, in the form of a yellow bar at the bottom of your HP bar, there are several types of Magic that you can remove. There are those who help the exploration process by giving you a “true sight” to see which objects can be destroyed, the enemy’s HP bar, until the timing to counter-attack. There is also one that allows you to issue a magic chair that can be used for melee weapons, which will also automatically withstand incoming attacks. The most important thing? Of course the opportunity to take out the magic wand that broadens the range and strengthens your attack damage. That’s right, the magic wand is unfortunately, not something you can remove and use permanently.
Beyond the potential irritation that might arise due to the loading screen that always happens every time a transition area occurs, your exploration process will usually pay off sweetly. You can collect a variety of scattered materials, which if you bring to specific merchants, will allow you to mix various healing items – both for Health and Magic. You can also search for and chase hidden Earth Gods to strengthen the attribute of the Monkey, from extending HP or Magic bars, or strengthening attack damage and extending its weak combination attacks. One other merchant in the form of Kwan Im statue allows you to open or strengthen the existing Magic, as well as visiting locations that you had visited before.
One of Monkey King’s biggest problems: Hero is Back is also rooted in very limited enemy designs. Although the gameplay time he offers is quite long, variations of enemies that you meet outside of the boss can be counted on the fingers. One type of enemy usually just has a few different colors to simply show their level of strength, but sharing the same attack animation once again, doesn’t need much strategy to be subdued. The level design is also almost the same. You will indeed move to many locations with unique terrain, but not many variations of the gameplay that he stretcher. Not a lot of puzzles, not many platformer challenges, not many secret mini-bosses that you can beat. Problems like this make Monkey King: Hero is Back trapped in a repetitive sequence that is tedious – beat the enemy and move to the next area. But with the action “beat the enemy” which is so basic and unsatisfactory.
In the midst of so many super satisfying action games in 2019, such as the Astral Chain of Platinum Games for example that succeeded in combining beautiful visuals and animations with the sensation of fast and intense battles, Monkey King: Hero is Back ended up feeling like a low budget game that seemed to need more many learning and research processes to understand what should be available in an action game. For now, it feels like a project deliberately designed for the local Chinese market, utilizing the popularity of the film version which is reportedly “gaining gold”. For gamers outside the Chinese region who have absolutely no emotional connection to the film in question, it becomes a lifeless action game that doesn’t have much appeal.
So as can be predicted, there are so many weaknesses that deserve to be discussed from this one game. One of the most fatal is of course the fact that for a game that sells itself as an “action game”, it doesn’t feel like an action game at all. Rigid animation, absence of animation cancel, absence of combination attacks, minimal variations of enemies that don’t need a lot of strategy to be subdued, produce a completely unsatisfying battle sensation. All of which are wrapped in a stealth system that also feels unbalanced and consistent, making the impression of “cheap” this one project flowed clearly.
This does not mean Monkey King: Hero is Back is a bad game. It’s just a combination that he stretches to make it feel like a standard action game (or slightly below standard) that does not have much charm and unique identity to make it feel special. For now, there is no reason to glance at him.
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