‘Black Myth’ makes its journey to the west
Published: Jun 20, 2024 11:18 PM
Illustration: Liu Xiangya/GT

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/GT

Video game Black Myth: Wukong has been leading on the weekly sales chart on global video game distribution platform Steam, beating Elden Ring and its latest downloadable content Shadow of the Erdtree. Despite not having officially launched, this phenomenal game adapted from the story of Monkey King has sparked a growing interest in its original story, even prompting players overseas to begin to read Journey to the West, upon which the game is based.

As the first game in China to be considered triple-A level, Black Myth: Wukong broke the billion-yuan ($137 million) mark just three days after pre-sales began. Since the announcement of pre-sales, it has repeatedly made headlines. Trailers on platforms like YouTube have garnered tens of millions of views, with comments filled with anticipation and praise from around the world.

"You already know Black Myth: Wukong will have a rich, complex, and heartfelt story because it was based on Journey to the West, arguably the most influential piece of literature across Asia. I can't wait for the world to become more familiar with the story of Journey to the West and its cultural symbolism littered throughout it!" Beltran Velasco, a game critic, told the Global Times.

Velasco noted that the game's trailer release strategy was highly successful, precisely capturing the interest of players. "The trailer not only showcased the game's high-quality graphics and smooth combat but also cleverly presented the game's storyline and world-building," he added. 

With the recent launch of the hands-on preview for the game, many internationally renowned media outlets and invited bloggers conducted in-depth reports and evaluations of the game. Most of these reports not only affirmed the game's technical and artistic quality but also praised its cultural content.

"This is one of the most wish-listed games on Steam and one of the most anticipated games of the year. After playing for two hours, I think its reputation is well deserved. This is good stuff, maybe even great," said a reviewer from video game review site GamesRadar.

The enthusiasm for Black Myth: Wukong is equally strong in overseas gaming communities. On platforms like Reddit and ResetEra, players are eagerly discussing the game's plot, graphics, and gameplay, expressing their anticipation for the game's official release. This positive community feedback indicates the game's popularity in the international market. 

"Yo, have you read Journey to the West? If that's the case bro, this game also made me read the book. Now I'm doing my reread before its out!" posted Gamskining, a gamer on Reddit.

"I read a lot of it a looooong time ago.. have to reread, this legend never gets old and the game looks like a masterpiece," replied Joseph Witty, another Reddit user.

Based on the world of Journey to the West, the game has main and side quests that strive to faithfully recreate the original story, incorporating numerous elements from traditional Chinese culture. It employs advanced technologies such as real-time ray tracing to deliver cinematic-quality visuals.

Black Myth: Wukong integrates traditional Chinese cultural elements, such as Taoist talismans, Buddhist artifacts, ancient architecture, and clothing. The game's scenes draw inspiration from famous ancient Chinese landmarks like the Great Wall, the Mogao Caves, and Mount Huangshan, allowing players to experience a rich Oriental atmosphere during their adventures.

Since its establishment, the game's developer Game Science has released several successful games, but Black Myth: Wukong is undoubtedly its most prominent work.

Some players and critics are concerned about whether the actual content and gameplay of the game can live up to expectations. 

Although the trailers and demos show exciting battles and gorgeous scenes, some still have questions whether the game has enough depth and innovation, especially in mission design, storytelling, and character development.

The development team publicly emphasized that they are committed to providing rich plots and diverse gameplay, and said that the trailer is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Game Science revealed that the game will include main and side quests full of challenges and surprises and strive to bring players an immersive experience.

"I believe this game will surely make history once it is launched. However, the game is not a sequel to a popular work, and it is still unknown how the real situation will unfold after release. We can't open the champagne too early," Jiang Hanya, a Chinese game fan, told the Global Times.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.