9 Monkeys of Shaolin is an old school style beat’em up, developed by the hand of the Russian studio, Sobaka Studio. After a few hiccups in its development and seeing its release date postponed for a few months, this is a title that promises a few hours of fun both at single player and multiplayer level, as it is possible to invite a friend to help with the campaign.
Who never thought to be a Jet Li in this life? Despite being a simple game and even if it’s not exploring much of the kung fu style, the fact of being a beat’em up helped a lot to keep this title under my eye.
Mixing reality with fantasy, the story is set in a turbulent period in ancient China, where the Wei Cheng region suffered constant attacks from bandits. As a curiosity, the whole game has voice acting, and the person who gives voice to the main character gave voice to Jin Sakai (Ghost of Tsushima).
One day an attack by Japanese pirates left the entire region shattered and with only one survivor … Fortunately our main character was saved by a group of monks, but his family and friends were not so lucky.
At first Wei Chang is moved by a thirst for revenge for who caused all this destruction, but soon he is faced with a much more complicated situation, since obscure entities are beginning to appear. The mission then moves on to try to save the entire region from these attacks. With the teachings of his master he changed his name to Daokong and learned to control all his power in powerful attacks.
The narrative is not at all the main focus, but it is present and helps to orchestrate the whole environment.
The fun comes from the gameplay that involves taking down all enemies with stabs and kicks. Daokong has a staff and his legs as a weapon at his disposal as he moves from left to right. In the beginning, Wei Cheng’s list of movements, still as a fisherman, is not very extensive, but they are effective. It has a “parry” ability, the basic attack, the jump kick, and finally the ability to dodge. As we move through the chapter, the book opens, and with it three skill trees. Although I mostly placed almost all points in the first skill tree, which is intended for the physical condition and damage applied by the character, the rest are interesting and are intended for the special abilities that consume the yellow Qi bar, presented below the life bar.
To apply these special skills it is necessary to press one of the “triggers”, which allow performing a powerful that leaves the weapon with a kind of aura and an area attack that unfolds between slowing down opponents or for example the possibility to let enemies levitate and completely exposed to attacks.
In the selection of each level, it is possible to see the number of points that can be received if it is completed. These points are intended for the previously mentioned skill trees.
Most of the scenario is destructible and it is really important to explore this possibility as it provides good things for its exploration. The integration of teas of different colors is equivalent to different buffs. Green is intended for the recovery of life, red is equivalent to a temporary damage buff, yellow is equivalent to the possibility of using the Qi bar and consequently special attacks for a short period of time, and finally, white tea, which is equivalent to a kind of impenetrable armor for brief moments.
It is not a very long title and it is perfectly possible to finish all five chapters in less than five hours. Fortunately, there is the possibility to play the entire campaign accompanied by a friend, both online and locally.
Overall, 9 Monkeys of Shaolin is not a bad title, but it is also not a memorable title, there is a lack of spice for this purpose. It’s a fun beat’em up to play with friends, but it gets a bit boring after a short while. It is recommended to lovers of the genre.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC, provided by Buka Entertainment.]