Wukong feels like the next Soulslike killer


  • In Black Myth: Wukong you can expect a vibrant world inspired by Far Eastern myths with captivating enemy designs.
  • The game features challenging boss battles and a deep combat system that doesn't rely on parrying.
  • Black Myth: Wukong is more Sekiro than Dark Souls, featuring a unique talent tree system and linear exploration.

My preview of Black Myth: Wukong at Summer Game Fest was an interesting one. Having missed the limited slots during the main event, I was invited to try the game out the following Wednesday. There was one problem, however. I was flying back to the UK at 4:30pm that afternoon. As Wukong is one of the games I've been most looking forward to in recent years, there was no way I could miss the appointment, so Game Science gave me a slot between 11am and 1pm that day. I spent two hours playing the game before quickly jumping in an Uber to LAX.

It was a stressful experience, but one that was worth it, especially since I missed the opportunity at Gamescom last year with its four-hour queues. My time with it was short, but it ultimately cemented my excitement for the game. It's good – it's really good.

A vibrant world inspired by Eastern myths

My demo of Black Myth: Wukong covered the opening section of the game. When I sat down, I was thrown into Wukong's vibrant, semi-linear world and confronted with my first enemies. There's already a lot to explore.

When I was released on Black Wind Mountain, I was amazed at how pretty the game was. Souls games always look good and have a kind of foreboding feel to them, and Wukong was the same, only the grim tones I was used to from my Bloodbornes and Elden Rings were replaced with a much brighter color palette more reminiscent of Sekiro.

I immediately fell in love with Wukong's enemy design.

Beyond the visuals, I immediately fell in love with Wukong's enemy design. Rather than being faced with eldritch horrors, I had to contend with a horde of Yaoguai, a Chinese term for strange and mythical creatures. Black Wind Mountain's “grunts” generally consisted of anthropomorphic characters like myself, each carrying their own weapon. I faced swarms of fox, wolf, and snake-headed creatures of varying difficulty levels, all with different movement sequences that I had to contend with. The Yaoguai alone immediately helped Wukong's story and world take shape.

After a short hike, it was time for me to face my first boss.

The Ox Guardian, Guangzhi and the Splash Toad

You could say that the core of any good Soulslike game is how good the boss fights are – Black Myth: Wukong's are great. During my short time with the game, I encountered five or six different bosses, each one completely different from the last, but each one getting progressively more difficult the further I went.

The first test of my combat skills came against the Ox Guardian, an ox-like creature that serves as the gatekeeper of Black Wind Mountain. Her primary weapon in Black Myth: Wukong is a staff, which I found refreshing. The speed at which the staff swung made combat feel super fluid, forcing and encouraging an aggressive playstyle. This was further emphasized by the fact that unlike many other games in this genre, and much to my delight, Wukong does not rely on parrying. Instead, perfectly timed dodges are the key to victory.

Black Myth: Wukong's combat goes much deeper than attacking and dodging.

But combat in Black Myth: Wukong goes much deeper than attacking and dodging. Early on, I learned the game's first spell, Immobilize. As the name suggests, Immobilize allowed me to temporarily freeze enemies in place, giving combat a deeper, more thoughtful approach. Spells have a cooldown, so I had to decide when exactly was the best time to freeze my opponent. I could go into battle and use the spell immediately, allowing me to deal serious damage before the fight had really begun, or save it for later to stop brutal enemy combos. Each boss required a different approach, and there was no consistent timing for the spell.

As I progressed and defeated the giant wolf boss Guangzhi, I unlocked a second, more impressive spell – Red Tide Transformation. After defeating certain bosses, the “Chosen One” gains the ability to temporarily transform into that boss, using its abilities, skills, and weapons. Red Tide Transformation allowed me to use a weapon of the same name, a long spear tipped with flames that dealt fire damage to my enemies and helped me exploit certain weaknesses.

The Sekiro-like formula

Black Myth: Wukong is more Sekiro than Dark Souls or Elden Ring.

Rather than having the option to upgrade certain aspects of my character, the game features a talent tree that allowed me to increase my health and stamina and unlock various skills and abilities. Thankfully, these could be reassigned at any time when I rested at one of the game's campfire-like shrines. This meant that if I got stuck on a boss, I could reallocate my skill points to better meet the challenge.

I mentioned earlier that the atmosphere of the game was very similar to Sekiro and the exploration felt the same. The game is fairly linear, at least from what I was able to play it. There is a clear order to what happens and your next destination is clearly announced. Exploration was definitely encouraged though. By going off the beaten path I discovered a ton of different items and an optional boss, the Wandering Wight, that kept kicking my butt. Thankfully I was assured that I could fast travel from shrine to shrine so it wouldn't be a problem to return to this boss at a later date.

It really feels like Black Myth: Wukong could usher in the next era of non-Fromsoft Soulslikes.

While this may be a less important point for many, I also liked the fact that I could pause Black Myth: Wukong without worrying that the enemies would find me hiding behind a tree and quickly destroy me, which is one of my biggest problems with the Souls series.

Black Myth: Wukong has a complex story, but it really feels like it could usher in the next era of non-Fromsoft Soulslikes. A vibrant world inspired by Eastern mythology, intriguing enemy design, and thoroughly engaging combat leave me excited to see if it could top one of my favorite games of last year, Lies of P.

You can check out all of our coverage from this year’s Summer Game Fest here.


Black Myth: Wukong

20 August 2024

Game Science