The Journey to the West is considered to be one of the most important works of classical Chinese literature. The eponymous journey of the Monkey King Sun Wukong, the Buddhist monk Tang Seng and other figures has since been treated countless times in pop culture, sometimes more, sometimes less true to the original. Just think of Dragon Ball, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West or Forbidden Kingdom.
The new attempt at a video game adaptation is called Black Myth: Wukong. The thirteen-minute gameplay trailer for the adventure has been a buzz since its release. Behind it is the relatively small Game Science studio, which is largely made up of former Tencent employees. Before Black Myth, the team mainly worked on mobile games.
The first glimpse into the adventure is definitely impressive and gives a good idea of what the developers want to create. As the monkey king Sun Wukong we go through semi-linear areas. The animal inhabitants of the world are definitely not on our side. They look for us, threaten us with violence, and clearly know that we pose a threat to them.
Source: Game Science
But still there is no sneaking. Instead, Sun Wukong can transform into a cicada and thus escape the looks and blades of his opponents.
But he doesn't always want that. If we meet an opponent in monkey form, a fight ensues. And it is reminiscent of a slightly faster version of what you know from various Souls games. So we circle around our enemy, evade his frequent and rapid attacks and strike with our staff as soon as there is an opening.
We can also counter, which in the best case scenario also gives us an opportunity to attack. As in Dark Souls, for example, we have to keep an eye on our stamina in all our actions. If this falls to zero, we are defenseless against enemy attacks. Additional bars show our life energy and our shield, which protects us from too much damage.
I think my pig is fighting
Source: Game Science
At least in the previous material, Sun Wukong is traveling alone. In the book template, besides the monk, the pig Zhu Bajie is also part of the troop. However, in the spirit he seems to be present. Sun Wukong can freely choose between different types of attack with his staff. Roughly translated, the two variants shown are called "Wild" or "Wolf" and "Pig". By the way, the hero's attack staff is apparently not for eternity. In the trailer we see Sun Wukong adopting the flaming specimen after defeating an enemy.
Furthermore, the protagonist has various special attacks that have to be recharged after use. More impressive is his ability to transform into a significantly larger, more powerful warrior. The standard ads disappear in this phase and a new bar tells us how long we can strike with a particularly high level of power.
Source: Game Science
In terms of play, it all looks relatively familiar, but it appears very competent and appealing. From a narrative point of view, Black Myth is not as easy to classify as it appears, because it is not a 1: 1 implementation of the book. In the narrative, Sun Wukong gains buddah status at some point. The game explores the question of what drives him after he has reached this perfect form. Apparently, he is drawn back on the path to the west that he once took, because the area from the gameplay trailer is based on locations from the template. The name of the place can be roughly translated as "mountain of the black wind". And there is also a temple in honor of the Buddhist deity Guanyin in the novel, just like in the game. Here as there, travelers meet a monster at the temple.
In any case, a lot of work is done with mythological elements. On his way, Sun Wukong meets an old man who is an earth god from the Chinese folk belief and who warns us of a terrifying beast. And reference is also made to the events of the original voyage to the west. While the temple has burned down and all the monks in it are dead, Sun Wukong helps the monks in the novel and defeats the monster mentioned.
The beast in the game mentioned by the earth spirit is by the way probably not the furry fellow that the hero kills in the trailer. It is just referred to as an "empty mind". The makers don't want to spoil the real evil that afflicts the mountain.
Sometimes they come back
It is also interesting that the Sun Wokung from the trailer is not necessarily the Sun Wukong from the novel. He is young and in the end he meets an old monkey warrior who looks a lot like him. We assume that the developers are working with the Buddhist motif of rebirth here, but of course these are only speculations at the moment.
It all sounds very promising, but it will be a while before we find out how much substance is behind the positive first impression. The developers say that it "wouldn't take another 500 years" until the release, but that it is still a long way off. You want to meet your own requirements. Nevertheless, the game has already been made public because you need the attention to recruit new employees for the project. It is hoped to be able to attract developers from all over the world to Black Myth. At some point, the PC and "all mainstream platforms", probably Playstation and Xbox, will be supplied. Whether we are still talking about the PS5 and Xbox Series X or the successors remains to be seen.
What do you think of Black Myth: Wukong? Did the setting, the gameplay and the impressive technology convince you? Let us know in the comments!
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A promising first impression of how much it will have to do with the finished game remains to be seen
You quickly fall into enthusiasm when a game shows gameplay from the very first appearance, looks damn good and is then developed by a small, inexperienced team. However, there is of course a reason why there are usually huge teams behind the really big games – these things cost a lot of money and a lot of competent people who work on them. In this respect, I think it's pretty great what the makers of Black Myth are showing here, but I remain skeptical. A game that is still so far away from its release can logically not be as far as it seems here. No, a small area here has been polished to the point of being impossible, more as a proof of concept than anything that resembles a real game. This is completely legitimate, especially if, according to the developers, the trailer is primarily intended to attract motivated new employees to the project. The fact that key positions are still vacant in the team shows that work on Black Myth has only just begun. As an interested player, however, you should be careful not to auction yourself off in superlatives, otherwise the anticipation can quickly turn into bitter disappointment.
Black Myth: Wu Kong: All this reveals the first gameplay trailer (1) (Source: Game Science)
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