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Black Myth: Wukong Opinions

Opinions 18 June 2024, 05:13

Black Myth: Wukong Hands-On: Serious Monkey Business

Developer Game Science invited us to Los Angeles to try out a two-hour demo for their upcoming action Soulslike RPG and let’s just say this game is some serious monkey business.

Black Myth: Wukong is a fanciful retelling of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West and centers around monkey king protagonist Sun Wukong who wields his iconic staff and has magic at his disposal. Invited to try out the game at the end of Play Days by developer Game Science, we had two hours with a demo build of the game that put us right into the action and let us experience the sheer thrill, challenge, and wonder the game hopes to bring in its own version of this classic tale.

At first glance, Wukong seems like a Soulslike game as it features tough bosses to fight, waypoints to activate, and the ability to restore your health at each one at the cost of respawning all the enemies you just fought. These gameplay staples are there, but the game felt more like a tough RPG that allows you to upgrade your stats and even craft new helpful armor with the right resources. You can also customize how you play with a skills tree also lets you upgrade various abilities from your cooldown time to weapon damage to even how many combos you can pull off. Plus, you can reset them whenever you want to change up your gameplay if things don’t work out as planned.

Soulful Experience

This is perhaps the quintessential experience of any Souls game—experimentation, Wukong surely felt like one of those games where you fight a boss, try out something to see if it works, die, but then go back and try something different. Its boss battles have that familiar feel of pushing you to your limits, oftentimes forcing you to memorize the flow of an attack or a particular hitbox in order to dodge it just in time to set yourself up for an attack. Because there is no parry system, your main form of defense is dodging, which comes at the cost of depleting your stamina gauge, which also determines how many hits you can do before needing to wait a bit.

Black Myth: Wukong, Game Science, 2024

All these factors combine to make battles a thrilling experience that requires patience and learning your enemy’s movements and attack patterns. I’m somewhat impatient at boss battles so it was a humbling experience playing the game in front of the game’s developers and making the same mistakes until I finally heard their cheers when I finally took a tricky boss down. It’s these small victories that will instantly feel rewarding, and Wukong seems to be full of them.

Rules of War

The game will feature three stances Wukong can utilize, but I was only able to play with the Smash one which seems to be the most direct way of attacking with his staff. In this stance, you’ll attack with light blows until you can build your focus meter enough to do a combo finisher with a heavy attack. You can also do a heavy attack by holding and charging it and letting go right before attacking an enemy. This is great for taking down less imposing enemies you’ll often see, but during a boss battle, your best approach is through combos and heavy attack finishers.

Magic spells are another useful and fun aspect of battle that can also shift things in your favor. The demo only gave me access to the Immobilize spell, which instantly stops enemies in their tracks, but I used this as much as I could to break up an enemy’s attack animation and do some free damage without the risk of getting hit. Later on, you also get access to shape-shifting spells that let you control a new kind of warrior or spirit complete with their own health bar. Once you lose all your health, the spell wears off so it’s crucial to get in as much damage as possible since this spell’s cooldown is so much longer than, say, Immobilize.

Black Myth: Wukong, Game Science, 2024

Sometimes in battle, I would start off with an Immobilize spell, hit the enemy a bit before transforming, and by the time this spell wore off, I could once again do another Immobilize spell to do extra damage. There was a wolf-like boss I had to fight, for example, that was weak to my transformation spell’s fire attacks so with enough hits, I could set him on fire to stun him and do extra damage. It’s mastering this spell system and knowing when to use certain attacks that will come in handy when fending off against foes that feel like they’re impossible to defeat.

Final Thoughts

One lasting impression I got from the demo besides realizing how more patient I need to be is that Wukong looks absolutely amazing. It’s an Unreal Engine 5 game, so you are in for a visual treat each time you wander through a forest figuring out where to go. You don’t want to wander too far off the torch-lit path, though, as you may run into a giant optional boss like I did. Sure, this giant-headed warrior may look cool and imposing and like all the enemies in the game are straight out of Chinese mythology, but it’s also one of those bosses I was too underleveled for. Each time you defeat an enemy, you gain some lore about them and learn more about their backstory and their role in the game’s world so completing this bestiary and killing them all is a challenge in itself. It’s also a game that takes liberties with the novel, but those familiar with Journey to West are sure to enjoy all the Easter eggs and allusions the game will have in store.

Black Myth: Wukong, Game Science, 2024

While I didn’t get to defeat every enemy the demo included, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game as it left me wanting more. Patience is key in playing any Soulslike game, and Black Myth: Wukong is no different even if it also includes some engaging RPG elements that encourage experimentation and trial-and-error. Launching August 20, it won’t be long until you, too, can feel the highs and lows of being a monkey king. 

Giancarlo Saldana

Giancarlo Saldana

Giancarlo grew up playing video games and finally started writing about them on a blog after college. He soon began to write for small gaming websites as a hobby and then as a freelance writer for sites like 1UP, GamesRadar, MacLife, and TechRadar. Giancarlo also was an editor for Blast Magazine, an online gaming magazine based in Boston where he covered various video game topics from the city's indie scene to E3 and PAX. Now he writes reviews and occasional previews for Gamepressure covering a broad range of genres from puzzle games to JRPGs to open-world adventures. His favorite series include Pokémon, Assassin's Creed, and The Legend of Zelda, but he also has a soft spot for fighting and music games like Super Smash Bros and Rock Band. When not playing Overwatch after a long day at work, he enjoys spending time working out, meal prepping, and discovering new international films and TV shows.


Black Myth: Wukong

Black Myth: Wukong

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