From an alternate take on the story of the Monkey King to two excellent free addons for some awesome games, today’s roundup features the likes of The Crown of Wu and new content for Sifu and Citizen Sleeper – the latter of which is now also available on PlayStation.
The Crown of Wu review (PS5)
Between Sony Interactive Entertainment Spain, Gammera Nest, Meridiem Games and Red Mountain, The Crown of Wu has quite a lineup of publishers and developers behind it. A product of the PlayStation Talents initiative, it’s a 3D action adventure game that taps into what made this genre so popular in the PS2/PS3 days. With plenty of variation, good looking environments and interesting set pieces and combat scenarios, it’s an engaging action adventure from a relatively unknown development team. We were especially impressed with how the game’s level designs bring the story of Monkey King Sun Wukong to life – opening up new areas and housing secrets and mixing up action with exploration.
The narrative unfolds through a comic book style presentation and features a plot where antagonist Zhu steals the great Crown – and you have to reclaim it before it spells the destruction of the world you hold dear. And while it may not have AAA production values, the game’s structure and presentation bring back memories of the original adventures of Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Dexter. With an expanding moveset and its mix of combat, exploration, story and the occasional puzzle, The Crown of Wu impresses for a title that’s being released at this price point.
One drawback is that the combat isn’t as refined as what you’ll find in AAA action adventures, though the boss fights you’ll run into are definite highlights. Outside of that, the combat AI of the enemy feels relatively basic, never rising to the levels of satisfaction you get from similar and more well-known games. You could say the same for the platforming and controls which can be finicky at times, but everything in The Crown of Wu feels like it’s at a more than acceptable level.
If you’ve played Monkey King – Hero Is Back on the PlayStation 4 before, then it’s nice to see another take on a classic story here. The Crown of Wu is an a well-designed action adventure game that captures the core qualities of the PS2/PS3 games of this genre – complete with some of the rough edges that may bring. We enjoyed it though, and it’s certainly one of the better and more polished games to come out of the PlayStation Talents program so far.
Sifu gets a free Arenas Expansion
We reviewed Sifu when it came out last year, and SloClap’s just released a major new update for the game – which is available for free to all players and is dubbed the Arenas expansion. With five new game modes, 45 new challenges, nine new locations, and eight new achievements, it adds a staggering amount of content replayability to the game – especially when you consider this is a free update.
The new game modes in Sifu Arenas are accessible to all players who have completed the tutorial, though it helps if you have a bit more experience than that. Nine challenge levels can be unlocked, each one containing five different challenges with three score levels. Survival mode pits the player against increasingly difficult waves of enemies, while time attack mode requires players to defeat foes as quickly as possible. With Capture mode you essentially get a king-of-the-hill mode, and Manhunt mode involves taking down specific targets surrounded by other enemies – which makes for a satisfying and cinematic experience. Lastly, performance mode requires players to achieve a certain amount of combo points to get the highest score possible.
Each challenge takes place across nine dynamic locations, paying homage to classic martial arts movies to add even more cinematic flair to the game. And even if you don’t recognize the specific references right away (it has certainly been a while since we viewed any classic kung fu films), the locations will still feel beautiful and alive with character and nostalgia. Add in different challenge modifiers and enemies, and Sifu Arenas manages to keep things fresh for quite a while. Once you manage to complete all 45 challenges and max them out, there isn’t too much value in replaying them again, but at that point you’ll have gotten many hours worth of gameplay out of Arena. And all of that for free.
Overall, Sifu Arenas is an excellent expansion pack that adds value to the base game. The game modes are accessible yet offer enough challenge to experienced players, the challenges are dynamic, and the locations are beautiful. If you’re looking to head back into Sifu one more time then this expansion is more than worth it, while it should also make Sifu an even easier purchase for those who haven’t played it yet.
Citizen Sleeper launches on PlayStation
We’ve raved over Citizen Sleeper by developer Jump Over The Age and publisher Fellow Traveller before, and now this unique blend of RPG and visual novel has finally come to PlayStation. And as with Sifu, it’s another title where the developer has been very generous with free post-launch DLC, its third major content pack (“Purge”) having just been released as well.
Citizen Sleeper is set in a bleak sci-fi world that’s as fascinating as it is haunting. As the titular Sleeper, an android with a human mind, you explore Erlin’s Eye, a sprawling space station controlled by corrupt corporations and populated by individuals just trying to survive. The game’s world-building and writing are top-notch, and the cast of supporting characters you encounter along the way is very distinct and memorable. Each NPC has their own background and motivations, adding depth and nuance to the story.
The gameplay revolves around rolling up to five dice each day (or “cycle”) and using them to perform actions at various locations on the Eye. The higher the roll, the better the outcome, but even low rolls can be useful for certain tasks – giving the game a bit of a TTRPG feel at times. There’s a delicate balance to managing your resources and maintaining your condition, which slowly deteriorates over time, limiting the number of dice you can use. It’s a system that takes some getting used to, but it works well and keeps you engaged throughout the game.
The story is the main draw here, and it never disappoints. The writing is excellent and the narrative threads are engaging and well-crafted – something that holds true for the DLC chapters as well. Each character you encounter will give you a “Drive” to follow, which rewards you with an upgrade point upon completion. Some of these upgrades are essential, so it’s worth pursuing them, but the storylines are also compelling enough on their own to keep you hooked. Citizen Sleeper is a game that’s sure to leave a lasting impression, with its thoughtful storytelling, well-designed world, and intriguing gameplay – a real gem that PlayStation owners should be happy to be able to add to their library.