"Black Myth: Wukong" is based on a Ming Dynasty novel written by Wu Cheng En called " Journey to the West."

It is about time that somebody made a game of this scale about a story often accredited as China’s first long-form fantasy. It is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature and the most popular East Asian literary work.

"Black Myth" was created by the Chinese indie game developer Game Science. It will release for all current-gen and next-gen mainstream consoles — which means PC, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, etc. — in 2023.

The Lore of the Game

"Journey to the West" tells the tale of a monkey, Sun Wukong, who was born from a giant rock egg. Naturally gifted with strength and leadership, he eventually becomes the king of all the monkey tribes who live in the mountain.

After he dies, he barges into heaven to steal the peaches of immortality. This prompts the Jade Emperor to send his Army of Heaven against him. However, the powers and immortality that the Monkey King acquired from the peaches allow him to defeat the army.

Only the Buddha himself could end the situation by squashing Sun Wukong underneath a mountain. There he stays for five hundred years, until the Buddha decides to give him a chance at redemption. The Buddha asks him to accompany and protect the monk Tang Sanzang on his trip to India to retrieve Buddhist scriptures for China.

In "Black Myth," you play as the Monkey King Sun Wukong. The story is an allegory for the obstacles one must face to achieve nirvana (enlightenment in Buddhism) and freedom from rebirth.

Tang Sanzang is never explicitly shown in any of the three game trailers uploaded on IGN’s YouTube channel. However, we can assume that he is likely in the game because of moments he is mentioned and the central role he plays in the legend itself.

This game is a must-play for Chinese art nerds and history buffs. The dialogue is based on Ming-era poetry and the architecture is painstakingly designed for accuracy. The trailers are riddled with references to ancient Chinese lore.

Yaoguai and Power Ups

On Wukong’s way, he faces a diverse assortment of strange yaoguai (demons). They range from gray werewolf-like creatures to giant fire-breathing heads to dragons that wield the power of lightning. Many are animal-themed monsters, like a giant bear or a two-headed rat man.

Sun Wukong wields his signature staff and magical abilities. These abilities include doubling himself, pulling weapons out of his ear, super monkey strength, fire staff and freezing enemies. He also has the power of the 72 Transformations (allowing Wukong to turn into birds to fly long distances and statues to spy on enemies). All of these are included in the original legend.

       Sun Wukong has the ability to shapeshift into other animals, including birds.

     
From left to right: flaming staff, elongated staff

How does "Black Myth: Wukong" compare to "Dark Souls" and other games?

"Black Myth: Wukong" seems similar to "Dark Souls." Like "Dark Souls," this game is a sandbox: an open world encompassing all sorts of environments. In these games, you get to choose where and when to complete quests, fight bosses and explore maps.

You’re not even obligated to advance the storyline. You can simply enjoy aimlessly exploring the map and accumulating experience points as you fight the yaoguai who dare challenge you.

Even the drinking of health potions during fights when HP is getting low is similar to "Dark Souls" gameplay.

               As Sun Wukong, you battle a variety of yaoguai (demons) in this sandbox adventure fantasy.

Most reviewers and commentators of "Black Myth"’s trailers seem to agree that the game’s kung fu fighting mechanics and general graphics are extremely impressive.

This is not surprising considering that the game uses state-of-the-art Unreal Engine 5 and is the first UE5 game to use NVIDIA DLSS. This is a groundbreaking deep-learning AI designed to enhance graphics and frame rate. 

The fighting is reminiscent of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li style kung fu movies. Multiplayer is also promising. 

However, some worry about whether the actual gameplay will be as good as how it’s presented in the trailers. Some game companies like to “touch up” their advertisements.

In any case, "Black Myth: Wukong" has the potential to become a tour-de-force of Chinese indie gaming. It may even create a new generation of Chinese mythology fans, both abroad and domestic.

The game merely continues the decades-long habit that dominates China’s recent history: to create a novel fusion of modernity and Chinese tradition.


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Eric Huang's just an ABC youngin from New Jersey and your friendly neighborhood jazz lover always. When he's not writing, you might find him surfing Reddit, reading Foucault, or playing his alto sax.
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