Despite the utter dud 2020 is spiraling to end on, the year still has surprises up its sleeve to throw at the world—the good kind. Black Myth: Wukong took the internet by storm last week and came out swinging with a sudden teaser drop, capturing the eyes and imagination of millions around the world in its 13-minute gameplay concept trailer. From its stunning visuals to impressive combat, here are five impressive things about Black Myth: Wukong.
5. Tried and True Tale
Black Myth: Wukong takes inspiration from the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. It is a work printed during the 16th century during the Ming dynasty of China and has been translated and spread throughout the world since, inspiring countless story adaptations in movies, games, and literature.
The story tells of the legendary pilgrimage of a Buddhist monk named Sanzang who embarks on a quest to obtain sacred Buddhist texts, known as sutras. Tasked by the Emperor of China, the monk sets off to the west to retrieve the sutras and it is a journey he does not forge alone.
In the original story, the monk is protected by three guardians, whose servitude is penance for their sins, consisting of a pig, a demon, and, most popular of all, a monkey—a Monkey King to be exact.
Son Wukong is the most popular of the three guardians, and rightly so. He is brave, possesses supernatural abilities, and hotheaded, the three prime ingredients of making a proper and memorable protagonist, and Black Myth doesn’t seem to be skimping in this regard.
Like his literary counterpart, Wukong exhibits incredible martial skill with his signature staff and acrobatics, lending well to the frantic combat of Black Myth.
Much of Black Myth’s story is still under wraps, but there are definitely creative liberties taken with the premise. The trailer starts with a wizened monk telling the viewer his rendition of the Journey to the West, throwing in some ambiguous lines about the truth of the pilgrimage and of Sun Wukong.
Journey to the West ends with all three guardians attaining enlightenment, but Black Myth explicitly brings that ending into question. The game aims to deliver a grittier, darker, and more visceral tale than its more lighthearted, upbeat forebear.
If done right, this game may live up to its storied legacy and shine like so many other retellings have done.
4. Stunning Combat and Presentation
It can’t be a Son Wukong tale without stellar combat. The trailer doesn’t shy away from showcasing some incredibly polished and fluid animations and movement in its fast-paced and hard-hitting combat, taking place in gorgeous environments that can be altered by the flow of combat
Like where he bears inspiration from, Son Wukong is a beast in a fight. With properly timed inputs, Wukong can bob in and out of an enemy’s telegraphed swings and follow up with a deadly combo of staff strikes. He also seems to have multiple fighting stances, each offering different types of attacks.
The staff is more than just a weapon with which to strike enemies. It can be used to deflect projectiles and even be thrown to pick off pesky foes in the distance.
The game’s engine even allows for animation canceling with rolls, giving players a myriad of movement options. All these special actions take up Wukong’s stamina meter, which is right underneath a blue bar and his health bar.
3. Magick it up!
Dodging, rolling, and countering are as simple as can be and can get stale if performed continuously. Luckily, Wukong has magical abilities up his sleeve that he can whip out during the deadly dance of combat—talk about lore consistency!
Four spells were shown in the trailer. One was a stasis spell that froze enemies in place, opening them to devastating counterattacks, which do leave Wukong wide open when whiffed. The second was a force-field ability that negates all incoming damage, allowing for follow-ups. The third was a non-combat skill that let Wukong transform into a golden cicada, allowing him to safely survey areas but only for a limited time.
The fourth and final spell is perhaps the most impressive of all.
In the original story, Son Wukong is able to take pieces of his hair and make clones of himself by blowing his hair into the wind. Black Myth replicates this exact feat and lets the player utilize it in combat, as shown in the trailer’s boss fight finale. It’s an ability best saved for when the player needs to pull out all the stops in a fight.
Displayed on the left side of the UI, all these abilities operate under distinct cooldowns and use the blue bar to execute.
2. Time to Transform!
All the combat mentioned so far is visually striking and impressive, but is standard fare. There have been countless combat action games that utilized similar special abilities amidst combat. However, Black Myth has another ace up its sleeve: transformation.
On the right side of the UI, there are two large buttons with Chinese characters next to a stance icon. With a specific input, Wukong can transform to turn the tide of battle for a certain amount of time.
One of his transformations is a gigantic, beefed up version of himself, where he forgoes his staff and stances for destructive, wide-hitting ground pounds and swipes.
Another transformation seen has Wukong wield the fiery staff of a mini-boss he defeated prior to the final boss battle. Being in the transformation gives Wukong access to the very same moves of the mini-boss he bested, ranging from projectile fire slashes and flashy, acrobatic fire swings. The variation even changes up his footwork and movement options!
These transformation variations seem to be unlocked with every successive boss fight, further bolstering Wukong’s ever-growing arsenal.
Best part is that Wukong’s ability is 100% canon.
1. Transparent Developers
Behind the glitter and glamor of Black Myth: Wukong are the hard-at-work developers who made it possible.
Game Science, a group founded by former Tencent employees, is the development team responsible for Black Myth.
In an interview conducted by a Chinese media team, Game Science goes into depth on their biggest project yet, one they did not expect to receive such high praise from the teaser alone.
Game Science’s CEO stated the teaser was originally meant to be an honest trailer about the progress of Black Myth and to recruit further people to its cause. The team has taken the praise to heart and resumed hard work at developing and polishing the game, which they admit is still ridden with issues and rough around the edges.
The team then went on to say they will not show any further footage until they feel they have something more significant to exhibit. They also promised to not receive any sort of funding that would change their vision of the game.
It is refreshing to see developers so dedicated and passionate about their craft and Game Science’s core philosophy bodes well for Black Myth:
“It does not matter if something has been tried before or is entirely new; what matters is that it has to be done well.”