Monkey King: Hero is Back – PS4 Review

Monkey King: Hero is Back – PS4 Review
AlexKnight2005
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Genre: Action RPG
Developer: HEXADRIVE Inc., Oasis Games, October Media, D4 Enterprise
Publisher: THQNordic
Release Date: October 17th, 2019
Edited by DarkLunarDude

For those who recognize this title, this is yet another piece of media that follows the classic literature of the 16th-century book called Journey to the west. We all have seen at least one story, movie, anime, or game that has drawn from this book (I.E. Dragonball/DBZ, The hidden kingdom, or Enslaved: Odyssey to the west) but this game holds the source material closer than any other form of entertainment other than the possibly a play from the Shen Yun performing arts. The developers HEXADRIVE Inc and D4 Enterprise have recreated the animation from October Animation Studios in a video game form following the same story as the animation.

The player controls the main character and the protagonist of the literature, Dasheng (Actual name is Sun Wukong) that waged war on heaven itself and attacked buddha but was cast out into a crystal-like prison for 500 years. Although one day a Buddhist child by the name of Liuer finds him and breaks the curse brought on Budah to punish Dasheng. After waking our hero fights the boy’s pursuers and figures out that his full power has been sealed by a chain and can only be broken by taking out the Monster king that is kidnapping children which the player will find out the reason later in the game. Although the curse that Dasheng prevents his powers to come out the player can pick up the souls of the monsters he defeats and either enhance the one ability that you are given (The third eye ability that lets you spot items within your sight, highlight enemies that are around you, and earth gods that you have to find for permanent power-ups). After fighting sporadic monsters within the first stage you come across Madam Hare that will trade you recovery items for the random loot you have acquired, visually she is my favorite character because of all the random stuff that she has on her backpack that is fully animated and it’s nice to see characters that are fun visually.

The fighting mechanics are very simple and easily understood, you have a light and heavy attack, also you have a parry like-button that you can initiate a duel with a smaller monster which you can smash the attack button getting a funny animation knocking the monster in the most cartoonish way. As well if you do a heavy attack at just the right time you throw the punch into the monster’s gut stretching it out and landing a direct attack as such will do a lot more damage than usual. Besides the basic attacks, you will also have magical attacks that drain your MP and a powered-up mode where you turn purple for a limited amount of time like Devil Trigger from Devil may cry. Magical attacks can range from a multi-attack combo, enhanced speed, and materializing a kung-fu bench or later on your iron bo staff. Although you can acquire a bench quite easily around the levels the durability of the materialized bench will be greater depending on the level of the spell. The Kung-fu bench isn’t the only thing you can pick up and use as a weapon, they can be small bits of pottery or rocks that you can throw and a row from a boat. You can sneak your way in certain parts as well, doing critical damage to whatever monster does not notice you. Although most monsters are a straight-up fight, some bigger creatures are just living armors that you will have to hit their weak point to do any real damage. There are times where those living armors are searching for you within the area where the talisman is exposed leaving it vulnerable for a surprise attack or hitting it with a throwable weapon that destroys the enemy altogether.

Even though the feeling of being back in ancient china done perfectly in its theme I feel like the graphics themselves seem slightly dated as they look like they came from the late PS3 era or at most early PS4 era. You can see they have done some homework with the art style and the weaponry of the era as you face off with a pigman monster using a Chuí to smack the player with. One of my biggest gripes though with the game is going to be the sounds and dialog, while the voice-overs in the cutscenes are done decently the constant shouting of your compatriots yelling at you, telling you to watch out for monsters with each encounter and shouting for your help afterward while you fight your enemies. This and only this drove me insane because it is the same one or two lines that are continuously being repeated throughout the story.

Speaking of the story the game is about 10 stages worth of gameplay, each having their unique environment as you help your companions traverse the level by giving them the means to travel with you such as making a bridge with a tree or letting a ladder down so they can follow you. I also felt that the character-building between Dasheng, Liuer, and one of heavens generals Zhu Bajie (a swine like creature) was very weak as Dasheng went from not trusting or liking either of his traveling companions to being all buddy-buddy with them and giving no explanation as to why their connection to each other has strengthened. Unfortunately, at best you will get 4 or 5 hours of gameplay even if you take your time trying to get most if not all of the earth gods to get every power-up and to level your skills and there is no replayability unless you get the season pass for extra content.

Pros:

  • Easy to control combat system
  • Ancient Chinese theme is on point with fun animations
  • Keeps with the source material very well

Cons:

  • Poor and at times annoying audio
  • Can be mistaken for a PS3 game because of the graphics quality
  • Boring and poorly executed story
  • Game is too short

Alexknight2005 gives Monkey King: Hero is back a Drastik Measure score 5.5 out of 10 (55)

At the price of $39.99 for is the version of the game on PS4 I would stay away from this title and only get the game if its heavily on sale and you are a fan of the classic story.