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Black Myth: Wukong preview - my god there are so many bosses

Black Myth: Wukong preview - my god there are so many bosses

Don't myth out

“I would avoid the big baby. Nobody has managed to kill the big baby yet.”

As far as video game preview events go, this certainly isn’t the kind of intro I’m used to. But as I settled down to check out the first few hours of Black Myth: Wukong, the new Unreal Engine 5 RPG from publisher and developer Game Science, this was the advice I was offered.

Obviously, I knew I would have to make it my mission to find and kill the big baby.

Odds are you’ve seen Black Myth: Wukong in action at this point. Footage of the game has blown up over and over again on social media in the last few years, and it’s not hard to see why. Stunning visuals and epic boss battles wrapped up in a world rooted in and inspired by Chinese mythology make for a fairly easy sell. But we’ve been burned by flashy Unreal Engine 5 demos and the promise of big, ambitious projects before. Is this RPG any different?

Yes, it turns out. Having spent a couple of hours with Black Myth, perhaps the greatest praise I can offer is that I would happily have sat back down and gone through the whole demo again.

For those who haven’t been following the game’s journey, Black Myth is inspired by the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. Players take control of a human-monkey hybrid demigod figure known as the Destined One, who is based on Sun Wukong from the original tales.

Black Myth /

First and foremost, Black Myth: Wukong is a stupidly gorgeous game. Like, really, ridiculously, almost unbelievably good looking. From the way the light catches the trees and shimmers off the small streams of water running through the forest, to the individual blades of grass swaying gently in the breeze. I’ve never seen anything like it. This may be the best-looking Unreal Engine 5 game we’ve gotten so far.

But what good is a pretty face if there’s nothing going on underneath the surface? Fortunately Black Myth happens to be an absolute blast to play, too.

Comparisons have been drawn to the likes of Dark Souls, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. Yes, the game has some difficult bosses, but the overall combat and flow is far more focused on fast-paced action than fretting over specific stats and builds.

Certainly, at least in terms of combat, Black Myth has far more in common with the rebooted God Of War games, or even Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi titles.

Black Myth /

Your primary weapon is a staff, which you’ll wield via a series of combos made up of light and strong attacks. There’s a strong focus on the Destined One’s inherent agility and martial arts prowess, and laying the beatdown on regular enemies is tremendously satisfying. The speed with which our hero can move makes them a joy to control. This being an RPG, you can also upgrade various abilities, increasing stats like health and stamina while also learning new stances, combos, and ways of attacking.

The Destined One is pretty handy with magic, too, and through careful exploration of the game’s various semi-open zones, you’ll dig up all manner of optional skills. Some, like an amazing ability to freeze enemies in time so that you can wail on them before they get their attack in, are given to you through the course of the story. Others, like a powerful alternate form that turns you into a fiery force to be reckoned with, are locked behind hidden bosses. Black Myth is a game that wants you to poke around off the beaten path, and it offers a genuine impetus to do so; luring you away with the promises of more challenging fights and rare gear.

Oh and that “big baby” I mentioned earlier? Don’t worry, it’s not actually a baby. I don’t think so, at least. More of a monstrous walking doll that uses its massive head to deliver devastating blows and. It’s one of Black Myth’s many, many bosses - which is where the game really shines.

Similar to God Of War: Ragnarök, Black Myth strikes a balance between giving you plenty of weaker enemies to pound on and get that power fantasy fix, and throwing out huge monsters who will absolutely humble you if you’re not careful.

Black Myth /

This is where the Souls comparisons are maybe a little more justified, as these encounters are tests of patience and observation. There are patterns to learn, and knowing how much you can wail on a foe before you need to dodge out of their range is absolutely crucial. The aforementioned time-stop ability adds a fun new dynamic to this, however, since you can literally stop a boss in their tracks for a few seconds right before they deliver a devastating blow. Just be aware you can’t endlessly spam spells, which are reliant on mana and a cooldown timer.

Unlike Dark Souls, there isn’t a traditional levelling system, and simply grinding till you can overpower a boss through brute force isn’t an entirely feasible strategy. You can explore a little more for better gear or a handier new ability, for sure, but boss battles in Black Myth ultimately come down to sheer perseverance and skill.

During my brief time with the game I came across more than half a dozen bosses, some optional, others not. The big baby I was advised not to tangle with? It took me a while, but I killed it dead. I also fought a colossal dragon that could call down lightning, an ancient warrior monk, a giant wolf, and a flaming knight. Each encounter felt markedly different, and each was an absolute joy to slowly get to grips with and, ultimately, conquer. If Black Myth can keep the same pace in terms of bosses throughout as I experienced in the preview, then I think gamers after a real challenge will have a lot to enjoy.

Black Myth: Wukong is a game that, I have to admit, I was concerned about. Much has been said about the RPG’s Unreal Engine 5-powered visual splendour, to the extent that I feared it would be a pretty but ultimately shallow action game. Based on what I’ve played, however, I reckon we can look forward to something very special indeed.

Featured Image Credit: Game Science

Topics: God Of War, Star Wars, Unreal Engine