The PlayStation Talents initiative is a great idea. Helping Spanish creatives get off the ground is a worthy cause in theory, but in practise the prices given to them do not match the quality or amount of game you’re getting. Wukong, which is influenced by the ever popular Journey to the West and not to be confused with many other games with similar names, is brought to you by the same label and falls into many of the same pitfalls. Which is suitable as this is a 3D platformer in the vein of Crash Bandicoot.
There is a very brief story cutscene to start off but then the story vanishes. Wukong is flying over the land on his cloud and drops all his treasure. He has to go through the levels collecting it again, defeating any enemies that get in his way.
He does this by travelling through linear 3D levels, more often than not travelling forwards through a narrow path a la Crash Bandicoot but also switching to left and right movement at times as his adventure progresses. Coins litter the levels but these, like Mario’s coins, don’t do anything except when you reach 100 you’ll get an extra life. You can just reach the end of the level to finish it but the actual treasures are hidden. Three scrolls and three jade dragons exist on each level and are usually just out of camera shot so you’ll want to keep an eye out for nooks and crannies you can get into rather than ploughing through.
There is no tutorial, or even a controller layout image, which means you have to do some button testing. You can jump, do a spin attack, throw your staff for a longer range attack and a short dash which you can also do in the air to extend jumps. Initially things are pretty straight forward with you jumping over logs and spinning enemies and pots before getting to the end of the level, hopefully finding all the treasures. Things do progress however, with you using your expanding staff to create bridges, knocking platforms around and controlling when a platform moves by throwing your staff.
Enemies will also evolve from simply running at you to patrolling with shields, firing rocks at you (which you can hit back), flying ones and ones which are invulnerable and must be knocked off ledges to be killed.
Things sound pretty good but as the opening paragraph should have hinted at, Wukong is short. There are eight levels to complete and each might take you five minutes. The collectibles do add an element of replayability if you missed them but that only happened to me on one level. There are a few missable trophies specific to certain levels to encourage you to go back but that’s kind of it. It feels like the first world in your average 3D platformer but you get a thank you message and that’s it. There are no boss fights either which is a shame.
Up until that point it’s pretty competent. Visually it’s a couple of generations old and the controls are merely okay when you really want tight controls for a platformer but it could have been a lot worse. Some of the hit detection is questionable and there’s a weird bug where Wukong will fight against you wanting to run forwards when you’re running backwards. Not great for when you’re jumping over death pits.
That’s the only way you should lose lives however. You get three hits before you die otherwise and there are gongs throughout the levels which act as checkpoints and fully heal you. I’m not even sure what happens if you lose all your lives I had so many from coin collecting. You can choose which levels to jump between so I assume you just get ejected from the level you’re on but keep all progress otherwise and lives are there because that’s what platformers do.
The music is okay and sounds like an old school (but 3D era) platformer, but the loops are so short that it can grate before you’ve even finished the level. Despite there only being eight levels the music is reused as well which is disappointing if not unexpected.
The only other thing to talk about is the price which, again as I implied in the opening paragraph, is too high. It costs £8, so that’s a pound per level which is higher than most. You’re effectively paying for a project rather than a game and although it’s relatively competent when you can buy full games, made by professionals for as cheap or cheaper in sales, you’ve got to rethink your model.
Ultimately how you spend your money is up to you. Wukong is okay, but to describe it as a full game experience would be generous. What’s here would fit in as the early worlds of an adequate platformer from the PS2 or maybe PS3 generation and if that’s what you’re looking for then this will scratch a tiny itch. Others will scoff at the presentation, simple gameplay and the fact that it finishes before it’s even hit its stride.
+ Range of moves
+ Each level has a new mechanic
+ Collectibles encourage replayability
- Quite basic by today's standards
- Music is repetitive
- Very pricey for what you get