Divinity Chronicles: Journey To The West review - "A Monkey-ful experience that did not go South"
| Journey to the West
Devotees of antiquities would immediately have the bell in their head rung at the mention of Journey to the West as a deeply complex and virtuous tale that stands head to toe to some of the world’s oldest classics such as Homer’s Illiad. It bears a significant cornerstone to the Chinese civilisation ever since its conception and has gone on to garner a worldwide appeal and fanfare. Time and again, this timeless masterpiece made its global footprint at the forefront of cultural exchange and starred as a trademark icon in many facets of entertainment, be it movies or video games.
The Monkey King had its fair share of appearances across titles regardless of prestige and size. Cut the long-winded nag, to add to the never-ending pile of games based on the literature, comes Journey to the West - a Kickstarter indie goodie packaged neatly in a deckbuilding box and is the brainchild of Zhan Yu (Z Studio), available exclusively on the App Store and Steam.
Source: HangZhou animation museum in 2023, Journey to the West and its mascot: Monkey King depicted in an older medium
Heck, if you got the luck of the draw, you can call upon them in mid-battle and make use of their cards with varying effects such as healing, or have them act as your personal damage sponge. In your arsenal, you can harness extra quirks through consumables or relics.
With that said, Z Studio got the core formula of team-building games right, even with just one character (minus the generic allies alongside you). You are treading on deep water when it comes to strategic planning with the many cards at play, each with its rarity that scales with energy cost. Feeling ballsy? Just go ham by stacking your buffs and see big red numbers as well as carcasses of your foes.
There is another mechanic in play that affects the development of your character, primarily when it comes to random encounters in the roguelike modes. Each choice you pick has consequences. You are presented with the option to embrace the good Samaritan path or stray from it. As for the ending? We would love to let you experience it first-hand without spilling any beans.
Hilarity can ensue as story dialogue leave a lot to be desired and come packed with that signature jank commonly produced by machine translations. Despite this, it did not fail to portray the extreme duality of the hominid King’s personality: courteous and formal on one face, while gung-ho and haughty when his alter-ego switch is flipped.
As implied on the character selection screen, with some moolah the option of playing through the story from other characters' perspectives will be made available, featuring Holy Monk who is a direct representation of Sanzang, White Dragon whose design is reminiscent of Ao Bing from the blockbuster Ne Zha, Faithful Devil and the goofy Swine King. The quintessential element that drums up the gameplay experience will no doubt be the soundtrack composition - and boy does it not disappoint. The game truly has a knack for music, and when it hits high, it's a jam.