App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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On paper, Unruly Heroes doesn't sound like it should work as well as it does. It's an action-oriented platformer (which is always dicey on touch screens), it's derivative of games like Rayman Legends, and adds to the veritable sea of games inspired by the Chinese novel Journey to the West. None of this ends up harming the final product, though. Unruly Heroes is a charming and fresh platformer that surprises at every turn, all while feeling and looking great.
Jump right in
Unruly Heroes is a level-based game where you have to run, jump, and fight your way through tight environments that just take a few minutes to get through. You take control of four characters, all of whom have unique powers and abilities to help you traverse these challenging landscapes. Instead of trying to pilot them simultaneously, you simply switch between them by tapping on character portraits at the top of the screen.
As for story, the game wastes no time with setup. You start wandering a frozen landscape when a goddess abruptly comes down to inform you that your journey westward is fated to be one of conflicts you must overcome to save the world. This sounds like pretty boilerplate stuff as far as game stories go, but Unruly Heroes humorously undercuts the gravity of the situation with quippy dialog that (infrequently) emerges in the game to weave its levels and bosses together into a cohesive whole.
The somewhat subversive setup and beautifully animated artwork in Unruly Heroes makes it easy to be drawn toward, but that's all for naught if its platforming action doesn't hold up its end of the bargain. Luckily, Unruly Heroes nails a balance of control that feels loose enough for you to improvise some of your platforming solutions while maintaining a certain tightness that keeps things feeling snappy and responsive. This perhaps should come as no surprise, as Magic Design Studios helped make the aforementioned (and critically-acclaimed) Rayman Legends.
In addition to feeling great to control, Unruly Heroes has some incredible level design that carefully doles out new gameplay mechanics and gimmicks at the right time so you never get bored with it. I hesitate to share to many of these tricks, as discovering them is all part of the fun, so let's just say that some add dimension to the basic act of running and jumping around, while others disrupt the experience to such a degree that you feel like you're playing a different game entirely.
I tested out Unruly Heroes both using touch controls and a bluetooth controller, and found both control methods perfectly usable for completing the game. Each stage features collectible and time challenges, and I will say I found it much easier to complete the timing challenges using a controller, but if you just want to enjoy the story and novelty of Unruly Heroes, there's plenty of game to enjoy here and you definitely don't need to consider using additional hardware to do so.
That said, a sure sign of a successful platformer is its ability to make you want to master its levels and cruise effortlessly through them. Perhaps it goes without saying at this point, but Unruly Heroes absolutely does this, so you might find yourself busting out a controller just to enjoy this game in a new way after completing it.
The bottom line
Unruly Heroes has the polish, personality, and performance of a top-tier platformer despite the things working against it. Its core design also works particularly well on mobile, where the game is ten times less expensive than it is elsewhere. Simply put, this is a no-brainer. Get this game.