The one thing you need to know about Black Myth: Wukong is that I picked it up surprisingly quickly. I was already drawn to Game Science’s upcoming action-RPG for the simple fact that I grew up watching Monkey King cartoons at school, so seeing the legend lifted from the pages of Chinese mythology making his Souslike debut was sure to be a treat.
I was prepared for striding through snowy mountains as a humanoid ape, with a long martial arts stick tight in my grasp. I was also prepared for a lot of dodging and squeezing in a good few whacks wherever I could. What I didn’t expect, however, was that the devs would take such a popular subgenre and craft a demo that actually helps you get better as you progress, starting you off with simpler abilities and slowly stepping up the complexity over the course of a 45-minute playthrough.
An ape-x legend
GamesRadar+ is on the ground in Cologne, Germany to play the most anticipated new games of 2023 and beyond. For more hands-on previews, interviews, news, and features, be sure to visit the Gamescom 2023 coverage hub for all of our exclusive access and reporting.
In a year so well-served for punishing Soulslike games, Black Myth: Wukong still manages to add something new to the mix. The demo I played at Gamescom took me through four levels – or rather, it would have if I’d made it past the second – featuring four very different, very aggressive boss fights.
After dying at the hands of the Macaque Chief, I light an incense stick and go over my spells. In the game’s first level, you can only bring two spells with you, so I’ve opted for a temporary invisibility buff called Cloud Step, and Immobilize to stop my aggressor in their tracks. These had served me well against Centipede Guai, the venom-spitting giant insect I’d vanquished in the first stage of the demo. But now, facing off against the Macaque Chief and his icicle-blasting attacks, it calls for a different approach.
I ease off during my first attempt at beating this enemy, taking the time to learn its attack patterns rather than running at it in a flurry of stick-whacking mayhem. Dodging feels blissfully smooth in Black Myth, most likely because I’m not weighed down with heavy armor like my build in Elden Ring. This is how I accidentally perform a perfect dodge, causing my enemy to go into slow-mo while I land a good few extra hits, not to mention a ranged heavy attack that knocks him flying immediately. Nothing feels more satisfying than following up such a combo with Immobilize, keeping the Macaque Chief frozen in place, meaning I can land even more free hits to further whittle down its health bar. After my enemy snaps out of it, I’m prepared to use Stone Solid – a move that helps me deflect its next attack. Lovely.
As I dodge and swerve the Chief’s frenzied ice storms, I keep an eye on my power gauge. Enough successive hits mean I’ll be able to use my newly-unlocked Transformation ability, Red Tide, which temporarily turns me into the Fireblade Wolf. As the Wolf, I’m able to not only deal plenty of damage with fire-based attacks, but I replenish my own health while doing so. I only manage to activate Red Tide once per attempt, using it as a quick way to raze the Chief’s health right down, before transforming back into my pseudo-Monkey King self.
In hindsight, Red Tide would probably have made a better finisher move against an enemy like the Macaque Chief. Despite numerous attempts, I kept running out of health flasks at the absolute worst times. At one point I got the boss down to a tiny fraction of its health bar, but after being caught in an icicle cage, I ended up being blasted across the snowfield at the last moment in a staggering one-hit kill.
Despite failing to get past the Macaque Chief and his icy magic, I love how Black Myth takes its time in teaching its mechanics. It made for a truly powerful taster session, encouraging me to experiment with different powers and ways of using them before loading my plate with anything else. Soulslikes have a way of humbling you early on, and that’s still true in the case of Black Myth. Armed with my martial arts moves and unique abilities, though, I felt far more able to take on the challenges and come back better(ish) each time.
Here are 10 games like Elden Ring you can die in right now