Pikuniku (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 21.01.2019

Review for Pikuniku on Nintendo Switch

A collaboration of a handful of different videogame creators, Pikuniku is the latest addition to Devolver Digital’s constantly growing collection of unique indie titles, and one that, unlike many publishers, and, especially a certain one who shan’t be named *cough*SometimesYou*cough* actually focuses in things that are entertaining. Taking place in a “strange but playful world, where not everything is as happy as it seems,” it follows a cute little… circle with legs, as it tries to do its puzzle-exploration thingy, and fight “The Man” while at it.

Remember those Mr. Men and Little Miss characters? Take one, remove everything but the eyes and legs… and you still don't have something simple enough. The so-called 'Beast' that lives under the mountain, and that is the hero of this tale, is just a red circle, with two black dots for eyes, and two red sticks for legs. Not very beastly, right? The world is equally minimalistic in its design, with everything, from houses, trees, and volcanos, being an assortment of simple shapes and solid colours. Thankfully, this succeeds in providing Pikuniku with a unique look and vibe, which goes hand in hand with the goofy, elevator music-like OST at hand, and, more importantly, the folk that live here.

Screenshot for Pikuniku on Nintendo Switch

The Beast… oh, it's too cute to be called that - let it be called 'Piku,' from now on. So, Piku gets to pay a visit to the local town, whose citizens spend their days growing corn, and waiting for Sunshine Inc.'s giant robot to arrive, take the corn, and start throwing gold coins for everyone. Vector heaven on vector earth, right? Well, not really. Just like in, well, every dystopia-hidden-behind-utopia story ever, brave little Piku will soon find out that the company behind those frequent golden showers (eww) is the big bad villain of the show, and the one who you'll have to stop with the help of the local rebel scu… organisation.

Those expecting something with some extremely dark undertones, which creates a heavy contrast with the overall light-heartedness... will, sadly, be disappointed. Pikuniku never becomes EarthBound, Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass, or pretty much anything from 2D Boy/Tomorrow Corporation - it's a pretty straightforward "destroy the evil megacorp" kind of storyline. Straightforward doesn't mean forgettable, though. Thankfully, there's a, very well-implemented, quirky humour at hand, with the small cast available constantly throwing out funny line, after funny line.

Screenshot for Pikuniku on Nintendo Switch

The low-key comedy on offer is literally half of the fun, and frankly, it's definitely the better half. Aside from the "plot," at its core Pikuniku is a puzzle-platformer, slash fetch quest, slash collect-athon, and while a good one, it has some issues. Starting with the controls, while they are decent, and the platforming itself isn't particularly demanding, Piku doesn't exactly move like, say Mario, Crash Bandicoot, and so on. It's somewhat hard to explain, but since this is basically a physics-based puzzle-platformer, there's a certain "weight" and unresponsiveness here, which, coupled with Piku's relatively slow speed, make moving around less enjoyable that it should be.

Puzzle-solving is arguably better, and revolves around simple obstacles with simple solutions - the vast majority requiring the push of a button by an object that will then activate a mechanism; usually an object that must be kicked into position, with the rest needing the use of a key-item or "ability" which was given as a reward for a fetch quest. The "natural" controls will still manage to annoy you once or twice, but as a whole, things are more enjoyable than irritating this time around. The real issue is actually the lack of a decent challenge, especially for those who have some experience with the genre - or gaming in general, for that matter.

Screenshot for Pikuniku on Nintendo Switch

Unfortunately, this is but a small flaw that forms the larger picture of how Pikuniku doesn't seem eager to be something more than a proof of concept, as the whole three-to-five hour journey feels more like a very long demo, or a small peak into an impressive, but unfinished title. Note that this isn't a moan at the length itself, but at the things that can be done in that period; things that leave you wanting for more, yet that 'more' never comes. On one hand, the extreme casual-friendliness and lack of challenge makes this perfect for the youngest of gamers - just remember that there are times where the big bro might have to step in to handle that tricky spot.

Pikuniku is not a game that you'll keep coming back for more. It is way too easy, way too short, and, most importantly, the content on offer feels painfully inadequate - the mini-game-like, 2-player co-op modes do add a few more hours of fun, but a great couch party title this is not. The wacky humour, and happy, "safe" mood makes this a pretty calming pastime; an adventure that you embark on just for the sake of it, without ever feeling that you need to hurry, or that you are in danger. Needless to say, however, that this won't be everyone's cup of tea - especially when it comes to those who, above all, value replayability. As for the rest, grab only on a good discount.

Screenshot for Pikuniku on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Pikuniku's minimalistic visuals, wacky humour, overall happy vibe, light collect-athon mindset, and simple gameplay mechanics, make it a good pick for those who just want to kill an evening or two with something that's fun, but not that demanding. Sadly, there's a severe lack of content at hand, which is surprising given the length of it all.

Developer

Sectordub

Publisher

Devolver Digital

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 24.01.2019   North America release date 24.01.2019   Japan release date 24.01.2019   Australian release date 24.01.2019   

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