Before I begin, I’d like to say that this is being posted on January 31st, which means I have officially made it through the entire month of January with posting some sort of content on my blog on every weekday. That is an accomplishment I’m very proud of and nobody can take it away from me! Aha!
Now with that out of the way and before I get completely sucked into the thrall of Kingdom Hearts 3, I’d like to focus your attention on this wonderful indie platformer game that I got on the Switch called Pikuniku. Devolver Digital published it and I saw an ad for it via their Twitter earlier in the month. The short minute and a half ad was so charming that I knew I had to get it when it came out.
And I’m really glad I did. It’s quirky and simplistic but amazingly fun. I haven’t quite finished it yet, but from what I understand it’s a fairly short overall experience. But if you’re looking for a quick 3-4 hour game that has a lot of humor and heart I highly recommend this one.
Well, I guess I’m getting ahead of myself and spoiling my own review, but who cares! Pikuniku is great!
The simple art somehow conveys loads of personality.
The game starts you off as a little red blob getting woken up by a ghost. You sprout legs and then make your way out of your cave/resting place. Your abilities are fairly limited since you are basically just a blob with legs. There’s a kick button, a jump button, and a button that retracts your legs and lets you roll around at a faster speed. When you let go your legs shoot out and can propel you up and away if you time it right.
The game’s simple controls add to the charm of the game. The game takes place in this happy dystopia where a corporation is sucking up all the resources but giving the community free money. Despite the art style and almost child-like presentation of the game, it has a very strong anti-capitalist message that is dripping with sarcasm and both light and dark humor. The juxtaposition of the anti-capitalist narrative with the cute character designs is pretty much absurdly perfect. I’ve played a lot of games but Pikuniku is one of those rare games that just HAS personality and barely has to make any effort to show it.
So far while playing Pikuniku I’ve participated in a “tournament” of a made-up sports game, broken a rock’s dining room table and was forced to play a game of hide-and-seek as repayment, drew a face on a scarecrow to scare birds away, had a mission objective called “Get Swaggy,” and challenged a robot to a dance-off. Oh, and I got sucked into an alternate toast-related dimension by what I can only assume is an Elder Toast God.
It’s wacky, it’s insane, and it’s so much fun.
I wasn’t kidding about the swaggy objective.
You can also go around and kick basically every NPC in the game and pretty much every single one of them gets very irritated and when they’ve had enough they start kicking you back with the relentlessness of Legend of Zelda chickens. There’s a lot of fun dialogue that’s just in the game for fun and there are neat little quirks or extra areas that add fun anecdotes to your experience but don’t feel like check boxes on a trophy list.
It was almost refreshing to play this after several hours of The Witcher 3, a game which to its very design core was trying so very hard to be mature and adult and aiming for Game Of The Year in all capital letters. A game like Witcher 3 or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or even my GOTY last year Spider-Man still have this corporate, processed, developed feel to them. It’s the difference between the sanitized (or lack thereof) feel of a Starbucks or Wal-Mart vs. the corner coffee shop or the mom & pop store. Regardless of Pikuniku’s real origins, it feels like one person designed this in their and just put all their love and quirky humor into it and not a corporation.
There’s also a co-op mode in the game and while I haven’t gotten around to having my girlfriend play it with me yet, I’m hoping to convince her of the little game’s charm and knock out the co-op levels in the future. The co-op is separate from the single-player adventure mode and looks to be a fun little puzzle platformer challenge.
Me neither, my dude. Me neither.
I’m really glad I bought this game even if my time with it will be relatively short. I feel like I’m already closing in on the end of the game with where I’m at (and I haven’t played it for too long, maybe 2 or 3 hours) and all I want is for there to be more of this world. But sometimes a bite-size game is what you need and Pikuniku delivers big fun in a small package. It may not be the next God of War, but it is certainly worth your time.
Pikuniku is not only a PLAY, but I’m giving it my first PLAY+, meaning it’s a game I love so much it’s likely to be on my GOTY list at the end of the year. This is partly for the benefit of you, the reader, but also for me as an experiment. I’m going to see which games I felt at the time were competing for the top spots actually end up on my list at the end of the year. Think of PLAY+ as my 10/10 ratings.
And that’s a wrap for January! See you tomorrow for another Top 5 to start off Month #2 of 2019!