If you aren’t well versed in Chinese mythology/folklore, you might not know of the famous story of Sun Wukong and/or the Monkey King. From the famed tale we know as Journey to the West, Sun Wukong has been a famed story that has been seen in tons of stories/anime such as Dragon Ball Z where Goku—or Son Goku—is semi-based off Sun Wukong. Needless to say, A Journey to the West has continued to transcend time and Monkey King: Hero is Back is a prime example of that. A 2015 movie originally, Monkey King: Hero is Back is now a video game based on said movie and we here at Honey’s Anime were all too excited to see how this game adaptation played out. If you want to also know whether to journey with Sun Wukong too, or sit this one out you’ll want to scroll on down below! There you can find our full review of Monkey King: Hero is Back for Steam!
What to Expect
Monkey King: Hero is Back is a third person action title with adventure elements. Players assume the role of Sun Wukong—who goes by the name Dasheng now—as he tries to regain his lost powers after a long 500 year prison sentence. You’ll need to travel the land in order to help others and regain your heroic status but with numerous threats around you and most of your power missing this won’t be an easy venture. Beat down foes using various martial arts moves and skills and ascend to Monkey King status once more!
Long ago, a powerful warrior called Sun Wukong existed. With incredible skills and power, this being—akin to a monkey and human—fought against numerous foes and made a name for himself as being both a trickster and a supreme warrior. Unfortunately, Sun Wukong’s antics caused him to be hated by the wrong people and he was imprisoned in ice. 500 years later, a young wannabe monk and a baby girl discovered Sun Wukong’s prison of ice and freed him. Now under a new name, Sun Wukong must save others and be kind to free himself from the shackles that still bind him. An adventure awaits in Monkey King: Hero is Back!
Monkey King: Hero is Back keeps the concept simple. Players assume the role of our Monkey King himself who goes by the name Dasheng now. Having been imprisoned for reasons we won’t spoil—that’s the point of the story, after all—our monkey hero needs to regain his powers by doing good for others. The brunt of Monkey King: Hero is Back is to help people from the scourge of evil now roaming the land. While Dasheng might have lost his extreme godlike powers, that doesn’t mean he’s going into combat useless. Monkey King: Hero is Back is a brawler game at heart which means you’re about to beat down some foes and you’ll do so in some pretty cool ways.
The main element of Monkey King: Hero is Back is fighting. When you’re not roaming the lands to reach various locations and help others with their plights, you’re kicking baddies in the rear! You’ll start off with simple abilities such as a light attack and heavy that can be combined for some cool combos. The actual fighting in Monkey King: Hero is Back starts off pretty simple, but as you gain newer skills and powers, Monkey King: Hero is Back’s combat becomes truly exciting. Boss battles will test your skills and you’ll often be outnumbered needing to rely on who to focus on and how to maneuver the battlefield to avoid taking unnecessary hits. Monkey King: Hero is Back clearly was made to be for all ages—note the E 10+ rating—but we found we could enjoy it despite it lacking the elements of bigger titles like Devil May Cry or God of War.
Digressing a bit, let’s talk more about the exploration. Monkey King: Hero is Back isn’t a huge world to explore, but there’s plenty to find and do in this title. Locations have a decent amount of depth to them allowing you to climb, jump and break through objects to find items to use for traders and to upgrade your skills. We were surprised at how big Monkey King: Hero is Back’s world is despite areas seeming to have a linear path to follow. Plus, you can often avoid fighting—somewhat—using sneaking moves and skills to take down foes. Though, we avoided stealth a lot while playing Monkey King: Hero is Back as combat was always a better way to go!
Visually, Monkey King: Hero is Back falters somewhat. While you shouldn’t expect high end graphics from Monkey King: Hero is Back—as a lot of the game looks dated—the environments and colors within this title are truly something to behold. At times we loved seeing some cutscenes and how they almost mirrored animation found in Pixar/Disney movies. That’s why we will say this now, Monkey King: Hero is Back will probably be more enjoyed by younger audiences who want a fun game to play. Kids to young teens will find the world of Monkey King: Hero is Back and the visuals to be breathtaking while older folks—like most of us here at Honey’s Anime—might see the same scenes as a bit weak in comparison to big named games.
Next we should discuss the sound of Monkey King: Hero is Back. Do us a favor, readers; when you begin Monkey King: Hero is Back, switch the language audio from English to Chinese. Seriously, the dub of Monkey King: Hero is Back is pretty mediocre and loses a bit of the whimsical elements of the story hearing the English dub. Outside of the voice acting being…not good, the rest of Monkey King: Hero is Back is solid. The OST fits the bill flawlessly with great Chinese sounding tones and songs. You often get lost in the story when you have some headphones on and just listen to the calm music while going from place to place. Equally, battle music pumps you up which is a needed concept for any action title!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Monkey King: Hero is Back is what we call a solid game overall. Yes, there are times where the early game feels a bit stiff and the story might not appeal to those who have no understanding of the lore. However, Monkey King: Hero is Back succeeds by having a beautiful tale of redemption, solid gameplay and some truly nice visuals. We enjoyed our time with Monkey King: Hero is Back and we’re sure many will too, especially for those of the younger age who love vibrant Disney/Pixar-like stories/games. If you want to see an older story come to life in a newer tale then you’re going to want to check out Monkey King: Hero is Back!
Combat is simple but fun with some surprising abilities/skills learned as you play
Vibrant world filled with lore to absorb and colors to take in
Solid OST that makes fights and exploration a lot of fun
Better suited for younger gamers but can be played by all ages
Slow start can make the pacing feel a bit shallow early on
Visuals sometimes do look a bit dated in some areas/environments
Honey's Final Verdict:
There’s always a fear to playing a game adaptation of a movie. While the newer age has seen better adaptations, that doesn’t mean all games do well when they go from the big screen to a console or PC. Luckily, Monkey King: Hero is Back does just enough right to be a good adaptation of the movie and still retain that movie-like quality. Is Monkey King: Hero is Back the best action/adventure title we played? No, but it’s a good one that we think many fans of the genre will enjoy, especially fans of the Chinese lore it’s based on! Are you going to adventure with Dasheng and try to regain his lost powers!? Comment below to let us know! Remember to keep stuck to our magnificent hive here at Honey’s Anime for even more game reviews and anime themed articles!
Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!