With its fantastical elements and quirky sense of humour, Unruly Heroes is, without a doubt, one heck of a ride. The 2D puzzle platformer and hack-and-slash hybrid even feel a little bit like a beat ‘em up at times, especially when there are hordes of enemies closing in on you and you have to best them using your super awesome combo moves. Slashing away or pummeling magical creatures feels insanely satisfying, especially with vibrant visuals that really spark the imagination.

Unruly Heroes

What’s the story of Unruly Heroes?

Unruly Heroes follows the tale of the Monkey King in an adventure inspired by the classic Chinese “Journey to the West” lore, where players take the role of Sanzang the Sleepy Monk, Wukong the Monkey King, Kihong the Greedy Pig, and Sandmonk the Sensitive Brute set in a breathtaking hand-drawn environment. 

The Sacred Scroll is used to maintain balance and harmony in the world, but now that it has been torn up and scattered across the globe, the horrors of the night (and day) have come out of the woodwork to wreak havoc on the land. You’re then tasked to go on a quest to gather all the scroll fragments to help keep the peace.

The four unlikely heroes will have to go up against the most fantastical monsters and diverse beasts in this action-packed journey if they are to succeed, but are they really up to the task?

What’s the gameplay of Unruly Heroes like?

There are multiple stages with sub-sections in each, and you have to progress through them in a linear fashion to finish the game (although you can go back and re-do a level anytime). Every stage is incredibly unique, from the breathtaking aesthetics to the wide variety of puzzles you have to solve to make it through unscathed. There’s also a colourful cast of characters when it comes to the enemies, as not only the big bosses but also the little grunts all have such vibrant personalities and move sets that it’s pretty much impossible to get bored with so much variety on screen.

Each of the four heroes (that you can swap on the fly) have their own set of abilities as well, and as you breeze through each stage with reckless abandon, you’ll easily find your fave among the four. Still, even when you’ve picked the character that suits your playstyle best, you will have to keep switching between them because you’ll need a character’s specific skill to overcome obstacles along the way.

Unruly Heroes review

For instance, the Monkey King can elongate his staff to serve as a bridge you can use to cross over dangerous and spiky ravines, while Sandmonk can punch through even the sturdiest of walls and make them crumble to pave a way for you to pass through. Kihong can balloon up and float through tricky vertical spaces, while Sanzang can straight-up possess enemies to make them do your bidding (which is by far my favourite ability).

In terms of battle prowess, each character has his own charm too - for example, Wukong the Monkey King will likely appeal to players who want to deal lightning-fast blows with a longer reach. You can collect Keys to Enlightenment hidden across stages and use them to unlock more abilities for each character, like Wukong being able to summon avatars that can help fight off foes when you’re in a pinch.

What’s the appeal?

I’ve been steering clear of action games for a while now because of an arm injury, but when the opportunity to play Unruly Heroes came up, I just couldn’t help myself. The aesthetics were what drew me in from the very beginning, but what I found as I booted up the game delighted me so much more than I ever could have imagined. I didn’t expect to love this game as much as I do - for some reason, it reminds me of the good ol’ days trying my hardest to get through The Lion King or Aladdin on Sega (ah, the ragequits).

Of course, that’s not to say Unruly Heroes is frustratingly impossible to beat. On the contrary, solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles to clear levels is so incredibly satisfying, and the difficulty is just right. For one thing, if one of the characters gets killed off, you can revive them by hitting their soul stones floating around you. For another, if you keep failing over and over again, there’s a pity system where you’ll be allowed to skip the level and move on to the next stage, which is a huge boon for clumsy little me who can’t make jumps very often.

Unruly Heroes review

Even more exhilarating amidst the wild, fun, organized chaos is that you get to unleash really cool moves with such a stirring musical score playing in the background. The levels aren’t the least bit repetitive - you have to think to get ahead instead of just randomly hacking and slashing. For instance, you might need to hit glowing orbs in order to fight intangible enemies, unhook a wrecking ball to destroy a spiky tower, or howl at a wolf to get it to fire arrows for you. The boss fights also have your typical attack patterns as well as different phases that really fill up the entire screen.

Suffice it to say that Unruly Heroes really has it all - you can even unlock skins with coins you collect - and it would have scored a solid 10/10 for me if it weren’t for the lack of local co-op on iOS (at least, for now). I can imagine how much more enjoyable this would be as a couch co-op even on mobile, so it’s a shame I wasn’t able to test it out.