Too Kind Studios’ absolutely beautiful, absolutely fun platformer brings lovely visuals along with tried and true platforming is a game made for both classic to current run + jump action/adventure fans.
In a way, Pankapu (only $4.99!) strongly echoes Michel Ancel’s wonderful Rayman, n a few key areas, but that’s a very good thing indeed. Both games have unique looking lead characters, fun, intuitive gameplay for all ages, and a dark thematic undertone that’s in direct opposite of the super-bright, stellar art direction that makes them so wondrous and eye-catching. The game presents itself as a bedtime storybook tale read by a father to his young son, which is a great way of making the fantastic seem real:
To help his child fall asleep, a father tells him the story of Pankapu, a tiny warrior created by Iketomi the God of dreams. His mission is to fight the hordes of Nightmares who are trying to invade his world. During his quest, he will meet many characters, such as Chii, a magical spider who will become his friend and guide him all along this great adventure in Omnia.
During this events, he will also be confronted with Gangreyn, a dark and viscous opponent who will challenge him to go see Yne’Ska, the Mother of Nightmares. Then, the tiny hero will decide to not just save his world but also to go in the center of the nightmares land, to restrain the problem at its source.
What follows is a mostly excellent mix of pure fun in some lush environments that’s going to be somewhat easy to old-school platform experts, but challenging for those players looking for a cool new world to bounce around in and discover.
The tutorial stages are super easy in order to get you up to speed with the solid controls. Animations are fluid, jumping is pinpoint, and while the initial stages are almost too easy, there’s that challenge thing that’s going on that makes stages more complex and demanding. Pankapu starts the game with a sword and shield, but as things progress, he gains new weapons and outfits each with Aegis powers required to press onward. The thrill of getting and using new skills that make short work of enemies and previously impassable areas now open is a joy, particularly with the outstanding visuals and music that keep the visual and aural thrills coming through the 20+ stages.
While the game has a checkpoint system and auto saves after a level, it’s pure old school when it comes to finding and collecting everything from Nagito and Lutanite bits used to gain or enhance gear, or Mudjin, little glowing guys you’ll find in many out of the way places. If poor Pankapu expires during the process of gathering a map’s goodies, he’ll need to hunt them down all over again. While this adds a bit of frustration in maps where platforming perfection is absolutely necessary, it forces players to get good at the game over barely getting by. The story unfolds in such a captivating, natural manner that you’ll want to forge onward just to see where our tenacious hero winds up next.
This isn’t a game you’ll blow through once and never play again, either. Between the level design, cartoon quality graphics (and I’d love to see something this stunning on TV) and replay value in finding the hundreds of collectibles, the about six hours of play here is a surface-scratching bare minimum time frame. Like every great platformer, Pankapu is made to savor and return to at one’s leisure with a big grin along with eyes, hands and brain all ready for the next challenge. It’s also very kid/family friendly with a hero out to do good who also discovers a few things may not be exactly as they seem.
The nice thing here is this is the first of two chapters and I can’t wait to see what comes next for the dream warrior in his beautiful but kind of treacherous world. You can (and should) pay the five bucks for this on Steam, or go hog wild and drop a measly ten spot for both chapters. The second one isn’t out until 2017, but this is a game that if it had been released on a CD or cart back in the day, it would easily cost ten times as much and probably be some sort of award winner come year’s end. Console ports are planned in the future, so my money is on this becoming a must for mascot game fans looking for something that’s going to get them jumping to snap up a new favorite they’ll love as soon as they see it in motion.
Score: A- (90%)
Review code provided by the publisher.