Pankapu (PC) Review

By Ofisil 01.10.2017 2

Review for Pankapu on PC

These past few years have been pretty awesome for the realm of independent development studios. While it definitely remains a risky side of the industry, it's also the one that prefers daring to innovate, and, many times, while building on the foundations laid by the golden classics of each genre… But, you know what? Not many '90s-esque 2D action-platformers! In other words, not many games similar to Earthworm Jim, Rocket Knight Adventures, Donkey Kong Country, or, one of the best examples of this particular flavour of the genre, the fantastic Rayman. Too Kind Studio probably felt exactly the same, and chose to give birth to the equally colourful, as well as fiercely challenging, Pankapu. Great news? Sort of…

This journey begins with a child waking up from a nightmare. The father approaches it, and tries to calm it down by narrating a fairytale; a fairytale taking place in the world of the titular Pankapu, which is the heroic being that must stop the big bad what's-their-name messing with the kingdom of… err, Everything-is-bright-and-gay… topeia! Yes, it's your generic platformer plot. Light versus dark, good versus evil. This, however, is only half of the deal, as this also delves on the "real" world, where the child and the father live on, with the story being far more tragic on this side.

The thing is that, tragic or not, the writing and overall presentation is such, that most will find themselves rapidly pressing on the 'A' button to skip the many dialogue sequences, which is a shame as the developer has put lots of effort on the story portion of it all. Pretty much the same can be said about the crispy-clean, hyper-colourful, hand painted visuals of it all. The quality is simply top-notch, but the world this fantastic palette has painted is somewhat soulless and bland, despite taking place in a fantasy land where everything goes.

Screenshot for Pankapu on PC

At its core, of course, this is your basic action-platforming adventure. The Pankapu fellow must jump around making sure to avoid pitfalls and traps, swing his sword at some bad guys, most of which are the all-time champion of uninspiring video game enemies, blobs, and, finally, do a little bit of exploration while at it to find the many collectibles/upgrades that can be found here, with some extending the health meter, while others add more techniques for Pankapu to use.

The main gimmick here is the fact that Pankapu will get to use two additional forms; an 'Aegis' that turns you into an agile (and fragile) archer, and an Aegis that lets you become a Sorcerer. The great thing about these, besides the fact that it allows for trying different forms to cope with different obstacles, the whole Aegis-swapping thing is something that can instantly be done with the simple push of a button.

Screenshot for Pankapu on PC

Genre fans will, theoretically, enjoy this simple concept, despite the lack of something substantially new and innovative, there are, however, a few things that keep this from being enjoyable. First and foremost, the clunky controls. Most of the moves feel laggy, and Pankapu feels far less versatile from what someone would expect from such a game. Furthermore, while the developer strongly recommends the use of a gamepad, the keyboard seems to work much better, as the gamepad can "die" for a second or two every now and then.

It's very hard to forgive Pankapu for having such a subpar and untrustworthy feel when it comes to the controls, as it's a very demanding platformer. Levels are full of things that can bite chunks of your health, and there are never enough chunks to make you feel safe. Our protagonist will have to repeat certain sections of many levels too many a time due to the overall challenge; a challenge that's more annoying than exciting, as the blame mostly falls on the game itself.

Screenshot for Pankapu on PC

Generally, Pankapu is a product that makes you doubt that its developer knew what it was doing. Weird spikes in terms of difficulty, unlike a progressively harder experience, like, for instance, in Donkey Kong Country; sluggish controls and protagonist, when other indie titles have actually perfected them (Hollow Knight anyone?); a deep storyline… that, to be honest, wasn't worth the budget wasted on it.

Even the visual aspect, arguably, the best part of this, is not without "flaws." It's all crispy clean and impressively colourful, but the world that has been painted here is unimpressive and forgettable. Even weirder, the OST is filled of tunes that are way too slow and whimsical, and, as a result, ruin the immersion factor by tenfold, as you'll have to brave dark and dangerous caverns while listening to a theme coming straight from the calmest JRPG town imaginable.

Screenshot for Pankapu on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Pankapu is a series of lessons on what to not do when creating a platformer, wrapped up in a greedy episodic format that should not exist at all. Amongst its many issues, the sluggish controls stand out as the main big flaw of this piece of indie-developed frustration.

Developer

Plug In Digital

Publisher

Plug In Digital

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Looks like we were right in the exact same zone on this one.  The more I played the more I hated it.

Dragon0085 said:
Looks like we were right in the exact same zone on this one.  The more I played the more I hated it.

What I don't understand is why almost everyone else is praising it...

A lot of quotes in the Internet are attributed to the wrong person
                                -Georgios Karaiskakis

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