Monkey King: Hero is Back from Sony Interactive Entertainment, THQ Nordic, and Oasis Games is a new tale based on Chinese Legend Journey to the West. Learn more about it in our Monkey King: Hero is Back review!
In Monkey King: Hero is Back, you will get to experience a new story based on the classic Journey to the West Chinese legend, based on the Monkey King: Hero Is Back animated from 2015 that became the highest-grossing animated film in China, retaining that title until the release of Zootopia, and later on Kung Fu Panda 3. It tells the story of Sun Wukong, Dasheng – the Great Sage -, who has finally been freed after being imprisoned for 500 years. He is awakened when a young boy named Liuer is attacked by monsters. While the game is indeed based on the Monkey King: Hero Is Back animated film, it will present additional story subplots and areas that are not present in the animated movie itself.
The game will get you started with a short tutorial section where you’ll learn the basics of combat, as well as pick up some items that you’ll be able to use later as materials. You’ll move with the left analog stick, swinging the camera around your character with the right analog stick. Jumping is mapped to the X button, while your light and heavy attacks are set to the Square and Triangle buttons, respectively. If you need to dodge an attack, you can do so with the R2 button. Crouching is set to the L2 button, while the Circle button is for picking up things. Once you have an object in your hands, you can throw it with the L1 button. Spells can be selected with the D-Pad and used with the R1 button.
During combat, you’ll be able to combo away by alternating between light and heavy attacks, dealing damage to enemies as you run, dodge, and jump to stay safe. Something to consider is that you can perform a special purge attack to deal with enemies. To perform a purge, you’ll need to press the Triangle button to unleash a heavy attack right before an enemy’s attack lands. This will activate a purge, which is basically a very powerful counterattack that will knock out your opponent.
It turns out that the Monkey King was not… particularly nice when he had all of the power accrued from the weapons and armor he obtained, as well as the magic he possessed. This is why he was imprisoned for five centuries, and why his power is being kept in check by a set of chains on his right arm. He must do much good in this new world if he is to be unbound and truly free from his shackles.
As you defeat enemies and complete quests, you’ll be able to gain red souls for your efforts. Defeating an enemy with a Purge will yield more red souls for you to add to the tally. You can use these red souls at the Guanyin Bodhisattva statues to unlock spells or to enhance them so that you can start to use some of your magical powers for good. The Guanyin Bodhisattva statues will also serve as save points, so be sure to interact with them so that you can select the Save option from its menu.
For example, you can use the Mind’s Eye spell to reveal hidden things in the area. These can include revealing the location of hidden traps, making it easier to see combat objects, as well as revealing hidden Earth Gods on your path. Most of your spells will be sealed at the start, but as you progress in the game, more and more spells will be available for you to obtain and enhance with your red souls. The first time you enhance a spell, the cost will be relatively low, but subsequent levels will require a ton of red souls before you can upgrade them again.
The many materials you collect during your adventure can be used at Madame Hare’s Shop to trade them for items that will prove to be useful during your journey. You could, for instance, obtain a vitality pill that can restore a bit of your health – even if it’s bitter taste is not going to be for everyone. You might also obtain some magic medicine to recover some of your magic or an exorcism amulet that will send out a small shockwave that can repel evil and purify it, to name some examples.
The hidden Earth Gods you can find in each chapter can be taken to the Earth God Elder to collect your rewards. By using the power of the Earth Gods you’ve already found, the Earth God Elder can raise your spirit, which will strengthen the power of your magic, boosting the total length of your magic bar, raise your technique to increase your combo, or boost your body so that your health bar and your defense can increase. The more you upgrade each of these, the more Earth Gods you will need for the next boost.
As for the game’s trophies, you’ll be happy to learn that this one includes a full trophy list with a Platinum trophy at the end of the road. The first trophy you will get will be unlocked as soon as the starting cutscene is over, as it’s one for Dasheng awakening from his slumber. There will, of course, be some trophies that are unmissable and that will unlock as you progress in the game, but there are others you’ll need to unlock by completing objectives such as performing a ton of purges, surprise attacking enemies, collecting a ton of red souls, defeating hundreds of enemies, exchanging materials 100 times at Madame Hare’s shop, finding all Earth Gods, and more. It’s a varied list that will certainly keep you busy!
An issue with Monkey King: Hero is Back that has been more and more common on PlayStation 4 is that it’s very hard to read the text in the game due to the size of the text. Because of this, you’ll need to sit closer than usual to your TV so that you can read the descriptions of the items you find during your journey, as well as the information on the attack, magic, and defense skills available to Sun Wukong. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s something that you need to keep in mind for your potential purchase.
Monkey King: Hero is Back is available now on PlayStation 4 as a standard edition for a budget $39.99, or as the Hero Edition for $64.99 which includes the main game as well as the Season Pass that will give you access to two bonus in-game costumes (Tuxedo and Dasheng Doll), two DLC packs of new content (Uproar in Heaven and Mind Palace), as well as several bonus items (Lotus, Guanyin Bodhisattva Amulet, Soul Charming Necklace, Secret Scroll: Purge, and Purple Incense Burner).
This Monkey King: Hero is Back review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by THQ Nordic.