Never before has “don’t judge a book by its cover” been more appropriate than to describe “Pankapu”. Beneath the game’s beautiful, ultra-cute, brightly-coloured exterior that has you thinking, it’s going to be an easy platformer is a tough, involving game with a story that unravels the further you progress.
Most of my childhood was spent on platforming games in the 90s, so I was really looking forward to playing “Pankapu”. It didn’t disappoint. At times, the game is very unforgiving, requiring spot-on jumping with little room for error. You’re also required to master various combat skills as you switch between a sword and shield warrior-type at first and then an archer and mage later on.
The levels are designed around each class and when all are unlocked, you can switch between them on the fly. I loved playing as each of the different classes, using their different skills to traverse each level. The tight controls and decent level design mean that it’s a lot of fun to play and very rewarding when you succeed.
There is a story to the game, a bedtime story being read by a father to his child unwinds as the game progresses, but this took a bit of a backseat for me to the platforming elements and gameplay mechanics. There are some light RPG elements in there as well that allow you to unlock over 30 skills. I kept thinking how much the game was influenced by “Rayman” and “Trine games”, but that’s certainly no bad thing.
The visuals are absolutely gorgeous. So much so that I was captivated by every level. In addition to this, the sounds, voices and music are fantastic. The developers have clearly focused on these areas and have been suitably rewarded for their efforts. The whole game felt very much like a captivating fantasy storybook. It’s nice to see an indie game that hasn’t gone back to the pixel-art age and has, instead, brought a traditional platformer up to the current age.
If I can say anything negative about the game, there are two minor issues for me. Some people will be put off by the difficulty of the game. Every now and again, I want to be pushed to my limit, challenged properly rather than racing through a game pressing a button for the sake of it. However, this won’t appeal to everyone. “Pankapu” also doesn’t last very long. So you’ll be done with the game in a few hours. There are collectibles in each level that may encourage you to come back to try and finish it 100%.
Nevertheless, if you’re like me and want to get on with the next game (from your lengthy backlog) it’s unlikely that you’ll pick it up again. And that’s a real shame, because “Pankapu” is fantastic! I hope that this new IP is the start of something great from the developers.
All in all, I can highly recommended “Pankapu”. As Too Kind have brought a traditional platformer right up to date and covered it in glorious visuals. Sure, the game is rather difficult and very unforgiving at times, but it’s very rewarding as well. That’s also why “Pankapu” will get you to keep on trying for just one more time. “Pankapu”, for most, will go completely unnoticed and that’s real crime, because, for me, this is one of the best surprise packages of the year, so far.
+ Beautiful, brightly-coloured visuals
+ Tight controls on traditional platforming mechanics
+ Three class-types add to the game’s variation
– Very difficult and unforgiving at times, won’t appeal to everyone
– A little short, but that just leaves me wanting more
Replay value: 3/5
I can highly recommended Too Kind Studio’s “Pankapu”. Sure, the game is rather short and hard. However, it’s a very beautiful and rewarding 2D adventure/action platformer. So it’s most definitely worthy of your time and money if you’re into 90s-like platformers.
Developer: Midgar Studio, Fusty Game
Format: PC/PS4/XB/Switch (PS4 version tested)
Release date: 2017-09-20
Spent time: +8 Hours
Average grade internationally: 80% Metacritic.com (PS4 version)
PEGI age rating: 7
Price: £9.49 (PS4)
Install Size: Around 2.8GB
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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