Monkey King: Hero is Back – Review
Follow Genre: Brawler, Adventure
Developer: HexaDrive, Sony Interactive Entertainment, SIE Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment, OASIS GAMES LIMITED, THQ Nordic
Platform: PS4, PC
Tested on: PS4

Monkey King: Hero is Back – Review

Site Score
Good: Visuals, Concept
Bad: Bland all the way through
User Score
(3 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Monkey King: Hero is Back was a CGI movie several years back, and one that isn’t all too known in the West. Nonetheless, the movie eventually spawned a game, a game that we are now able to try out on PlayStation 4. The game puts us in a surreal Eastern setting, while able to control Sun Wukong, otherwise known as the Monkey King, in different legends. We were quite eager to dab our toes in this Eastern spectacle, but sadly the mixture of East and West proved to be a bit on the bland side.


The game puts you in the footsteps of the legendary Sun Wukong, who always wanted more and more power, to give his life meaning. Of course, even though the ape-like creature gained legendary status, it still wasn’t enough for Sun Wukong. He eventually hit the ceiling and was punished by Buddha himself to become trapped in a crystal prison for 500 years, until he was freed by a young boy. Now, he is able to redeem himself, gradually unlocking his full potential once again, but only if he does good and unselfish deeds.

The story is presented through dialogue and in-game cutscenes. The overall concept is nice, but the execution falls a bit flat after the introductory cinematic.


The graphical prowess of Monkey King: Hero is Back is okayish. The game looks quite spiffy in terms of colors and its environments, but the many invisible walls create a ‘look but don’t touch’ atmosphere which doesn’t suit a game such as this. The character models are decently done, but in terms of enemy monster models, they are overused throughout the entire adventure. You’ll come across a handful of different models, with slightly different colorations and that’s all you’ll have to make do with. The facial animations aren’t all that convincing either, but this is possibly due to the fact that the game is voiced in many different languages.


The music has a proper oriental feel to it, with a few hints of a cinematic soundtrack in the background. The music is what drives this game forward and the fully voiced dialogue is quite a treat too, albeit one that gets old pretty fast. At first, you’ll think the voiced lines are properly done, with the necessary overacting present. After a while, when you notice the pauses between lines and phrases that get shouted several times during one short fight, things will get tedious and annoying.


Monkey King: Hero is Back is a rather simplistic beat-em-up title, in which you’ll roam around in a picturesque Eastern countryside, beating up monsters, regaining your powers and hopefully become the legendary Sun Wukong once again. While the game sometimes offers different paths, this title is fairly linear, safe for a few collectibles you can uncover.

The game will throw you in a semi-open world, rather than separate levels. You’ll have a few branching paths, but overall the game is very linear. More than often you’ll need to beat several opponents in order to progress or find a key to unlock the next segment. This tried-and-true formula isn’t necessarily bad, but the game often lacks a purpose or a goal, and having to fight the same monsters over and over again does become a bit boring after a while.

As the game progresses, you’ll be able to unlock new spells and abilities, but even so, these also feel a bit shallow and more than once you’ll just rely on your fists and the dodge ability. This makes many of the game’s skills obsolete and useless, making this a rinse-and-repeat experience.

Combat itself is rather fluent and there are some mechanics in place that make it satisfying, but overall the game doesn’t bring anything new or special to the table that would put Monkey King on the map. We can’t really call the game a bad game, or an awful experience, it just feels uninspired, unfinished and dull.


Monkey King: Hero is Back is actually a very strange experience as it’s one of those games that is able to place bland and spectacle in the same phrase. You’ll be treated to a bland spectacle when playing through this title, as everything is vibrant and colorful, but also a charade in terms of actual gameplay. The combat is simple and allows all types of players to play this game, but doing the same thing over and over again, versus the same types of enemies throughout the entire game becomes stale and boring quite fast. This is one of those games that could have scored well on a previous generation of consoles but feels somewhat underdeveloped on a current generation. Still fun to pick up when in the discount bin, but not at its current full price.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Monkey King: Hero is Back - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

Aspiring ninja.

1 Comment

  1. […] If you’re not familiar with Monkey King, it is a Kung-Fu action-adventure based on Chinese Mythology all wrapped up in a colorful fantasy world and already available on PC and PlayStation 4. The game has received a DLC called Mind Palace that added 2 new difficulty settings called Paradise Mode and Desperation Mode. While Paradise Mode will let you enjoy the story while never getting stuck on fights, the Desperation Mode will really put your skills to the test.  What would you do if you got trapped into a magical crystal? Well, train of course for the day you’ll be freed. You can find our review of the base game right here. […]

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