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The Crown of Wu Review: Monkeying Around (PS5)

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The Crown of Wu is the latest release of Red Mountain Studio and published under the Playstation Talent banner. Red Mountain Studio are a smaller indie team that’ve been working on The Crown of Wu for the last couple of years at this point, and with the release finally upon us, we were lucky enough to get our hands on a copy for review.

The Crown of Wu

A retelling of the famous Journey to the West Chinese novel, The Crown of Wu will have players taking the mantle of Sun Wukong in a future-past fantasy world fighting against magical and robotic enemies alike to save your master and the kingdom. Drawing heavy inspirations from the famous tale, those familiar with it will take away a lot compared to those that aren’t, and whilst the Chinese novel wasn’t high up on my bingo card for a gaming adaptation, it works surprisingly well.

Unfortunately, one part of the game that doesn’t work particularly well in The Crown of Wu is the combat. Having gone from Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty’s deep and nuanced combat system, moving onto The Crown of Wu’s limited combat was a shock to the system. Whilst you’re playing throughout the game you’ll be given new elemental powers – the standard Earth, Fire, Lightning and Wind – which are used more for the puzzles than they are in any impactful way during combat, and so you’ll spend most of your time fighting doing a little dance with your enemies. Backing away, getting some stamina, hitting them with a heavy attack (the normal attacks do nothing) and repeat. It all felt very hollow and boring after the umpteenth enemy I did this same routine with.

Related: WWE 2K23 Review: Quantity AND Quality (PS5)

The Crown of Wu

The Crown of Wu – Monkey Magic..?

Thankfully the puzzles are considerably better than the limited combat, and varied throughout the six hour game. The puzzles are where the aforementioned elemental powers come into play, and some of them will genuinely have you scratching your head if you’re not thinking outside the box. The perfect mixture of passable yet making you think, as any good platformer should be, and aside from one issue where the answer to a puzzle didn’t match what was in front of me (an issue since sorted in a patch I’m told), they’re all rewarding and pretty much the saving grace of the game.

However, one thing that does need to be said is that at times The Crown of Wu will frustrate you with it’s ‘out of bounds’ restrictions. You’ll be happily bounding along the rooftops of one section, clearly seeing where you need to go, and of course you’ll jump there, before hitting an invisible wall and either plummeting to your death or landing on the floor having to restart the whole section again. This isn’t a regular occurrence, but unfortunately it’s prevalent enough throughout that I died more from this issue than I did actually dying from my own mistakes.

One massive success in the game is the bosses, which although they’re very few and far between, they’re as much about your understanding of the elements in the game as they are bashing ’em till they’re dead, and I found myself enjoying the bosses even when I died again, and again, because with each death came some more learning and understanding of the right way to beat them. More of this please.

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Related: Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Review: Heart and Souls-lite (PS5)

The Crown of Wu has all the pieces of being a genuinely good combat platformer, but constantly falls short in many ways. Whether it’s the lackluster and shallow combat, or the sometimes nonsensical platforming, the game gets the fundamentals wrong without ever trying to better or innovate them.

It’s not to say the game is without any charm, because I enjoyed my time playing The Crown of Wu if for no other reason than the introduction to a tale and world I knew nothing of, but it could have benefitted from a few more months development time for sure.


5 Out of 10

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Written by Luke Addison

Luke Addison is the lead video game critic and gaming content co-ordinator. An avid lover of all things entertainment, you're as likely to find him watching the latest blockbuster release as you are to see him listening to metal/rock or reading the latest comic book.

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