Unruly Heroes, from developer Magic Design Studios, is offering an action-packed, platforming experience. Released on January 23 on PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC, Unruly Heroes sees players take control of four unlikely characters tasked with collecting the torn pieces of a sacred scroll that once preserved harmony in the world. After a week of platforming, puzzle solving, and action-packed combat we are ready to give our report on how Unruly Heroes holds up. So grab that coffee, kick back, and enjoy our review of Unruly Heroes.
Set against the backdrop of an Ancient Asian setting, Magic Design has a created a beautifully realized world. The story follows four unlikely and vastly different characters who are tasked with saving the land by collecting the torn pieces of an ancient scroll. Once collected these pieces will bring harmony to the land and banish the monsters that have been plaguing the world. The story is told through a series of quick text-based comic-style panels, each wonderfully rendered and presented.
This design carries over with the world and level design. With a wide range of backdrops and set pieces, each level in Unruly Heroes offers a unique look and feel. Following the theme of uniqueness each level’s design also offers fresh puzzles mechanics and level layouts creating a refreshing and new experience every time. Unlike many platformers in the genre, Unruly Heroes manages to keep engagement fresh and challenging with every level.
One of the best mechanics in the title has to be the hot swapping of characters (ala Trine style) on the fly both figuratively and, on occasion, quite literally. With a quick tap of the Left bumper (Nintendo Switch controls), you can cycle through characters. Each character offers a unique gameplay experience and can make traversing levels, combat and even puzzle solving easier depending on the situation.
Speaking of combat, Unruly Heroes offers a seemingly straightforward but rewarding combat experience. Each character has a unique combat style allowing for some on the fly combo building. Combat comes in the form of light, heavy and grapple attacks giving the player a lot of options at any given moment. Throw in some level design that can be used against the enemies and you’re left with a combat system that feels fast, fresh, and frenzied. It works exceptionally well.
Platforming in Unruly Heroes is a blast. It offers some of the most frenzied fun I’ve had in quite some time. The best part is that Magic Design has managed to strike a balance between challenge and fun without ever falling into rage quitting moments. As mentioned above, each level offers its own unique set of platforming challenges and mechanics. For example in one level, your heroes can possess an Alpha wolf which in-turn gives you a whole new set of skills to navigate the world and engage enemies.
Puzzles also feel unique and engaging, with each level once again offering thematic puzzles that fit with the overall level design. In one level your characters will carry a jar like a container that must be used to clear areas of the level of fog and by extension is used to move platforms around. It’s this level of detail in design that sets Unruly Heroes apart from other titles in the genre. Magic Design has worked hard to provide a fresh perspective on an aged genre and has absolutely succeeded.
Bosses are another part of Unruly Heroes that are also exceptionally well done. Each boss and mini-boss that I’ve battled during my playthrough have felt unique both in statics and mechanics. Once again there is a delicate balance here being maintained between offering a challenging experience without leading players into the rage zone. Each boss requires players to learn their attacks and will require a mix of puzzle solving, platforming madness, and straight up attacking to defeat. All these things work together to create an exceptionally engaging and enjoyable experience.
The title also offers a couch co-op experience for up to four players. Admittedly I didn’t get the opportunity to really check this feature out but I can imagine that it would offer a whole new level of challenge and fun for players. In many ways it reminds me of how Trine plays in a co-op mode but with more for a Guacamelee feel in combat and platforming.