Release Date: January 24, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Life can be a bit ordinary and plain, every now and then. Sometimes, we look at and do the same things — sticking to the same schedule and routine every day. The same old, same old isn’t always so bad, but every once in a while, it’s nice to step out of what we’re used to. Exploring what’s unfamiliar to us or even going back to simpler times can be fun, exciting, and like a much-needed breath of fresh air.
The adorable, jolly, childhood-dream-like puzzle-exploration game Pikuniku from Sectrodub and Devolver Digital put you into a strange and playful world that is far from ordinary. Just from looking at it, I immediately felt like a kid again as I was reminded of all of my childhood drawings I would do of silly, colorful creatures and worlds. What I found out while playing the game, though, is that it looks not only brought me back to my kiddo days but the way it plays also did too. With that said, Pikuniku‘s youthful charm will either grab your attention or have you move on to something else.
Pikuniku has players play as a red, arm-less, wobbly-legged blob with no name. In this blob’s world, a corporation named “Sunshine Inc.” wants to make the world a better place. The corporation makes it rain free money, and its leader even praises all of the world’s citizens by telling them “you are perfect”. Seems like the Sunshine Inc. is like that one Natasha Bedingfield song, “Pocketful of Sunshine”, huh? Sadly, things aren’t always as they seem, and this is especially the case in Pikuniku. While everything seems to be all sunshine and rainbows, the world around you is actually corrupted as you find this out more and more by visiting colorful towns and meeting peculiar characters that desperately need help.
With the way the story is, it’s very much like a story you’d find in a children’s book or even a Pixar movie. It’s simple enough for any player to understand, but there are some dark and deep undertones and themes throughout that older players will be able to pick up on. The tale told in Pikuniku will not make you want to continue playing, though. However, what will keep your interest throughout the game’s 4 – 5-hour campaign is the wonderful and memorable cast of characters that you meet along the way.
All of the characters in Pikuniku are just so lively, silly, and cute that it’s hard not to love them and want to help them with their problems. For instance, at one point, you meet a blob that’s an artist who has lost his inspiration to draw. He lost his inspiration after his fellow townsfolk asked him to make a face for the local scarecrow, and instead of the face scaring birds away, it actually didn’t scare them at all. This, of course, didn’t make the townsfolk very happy, and the artist decides to ask you to make a new face for the scarecrow after you find the artist’s pencil. The artist’s adorable dilemma is just one example of the many silly moments you’ll encounter in Pikuniku. The consistently playful tone throughout Pikuniku is fun for the most part, but I do admit that it did get a little stale towards the end of the game. Despite this, you’ll still love all the quirky dialogue from each character.
Just like how Pikuniku’s story is for players of all ages, it’s simple yet clever puzzle gameplay is as well. Throughout the game, you’ll need to help townsfolk, just like the artist blob I mentioned previously, with various tasks that generally have you exploring around areas and solving physics-based and environment puzzles by using your wobbly legs. A good chunk of the puzzles aren’t challenging, which is alright since they’re not really supposed to be as Pikuniku is geared to being a game that can be fun for any player. Many of the puzzles have you jumping, swinging, rolling, pressing switches, and stacking boxes in order to get from point A to point B. Pikuniku’s basic puzzle platforming is meant to be straightforward, which can either be a good thing or a bad thing for players. For me, I rushed through many of the puzzles as I found the game’s mini-games, such as its basketball mini-game and racing mini-game, to be more enjoyable. If you’d like, friends can also join in on the Pikuniku fun since the game does have a local co-op mode that has you and a friend play through different levels, and you can also play basketball with a friend too.
Pikuniku’s colorful, vector art style and zany soundtrack add to the game’s charm. Every character you meet and every area you explore are simply adorable, and the art style happily reminds me of LocoRoco’s. As far as the soundtrack goes, some tracks are catchy and are bound to stay in your head for a good while, but other tracks can be a little too repetitive to the point where they can get on your nerves. To complement how playful the game is, characters make silly noises when speaking, and every action, like kicking one of the blob characters, you make usually is followed with a cartoon-like sound. Ultimately, you’ll either love or hate the way that Pikuniku looks and sounds.
Playing Pikuniku will get you smiling with glee as it’s charming characters, simple puzzle-exploration gameplay, and quirky soundtrack will make you feel like a kid again. While it’s child-like charm is fun to experience, it does get a bit old rather quickly. Chances are some players out there won’t like Pikuniku for its simplicity, but if you’re looking for a bright, bubbly, and playful game that’s great for kids and adults, think about giving Pikuniku a chance.
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