Too Kind Studio have brought to life an epic story-driven adventure platformer with a bit of metoridvania thrown in for good measure with their title Pankapu. But beneath the glorious art style, is it just another platformer we’ve been inundated with?
Pankapu started out as an episodic adventure on PC, but now it’s released on Xbox One as a fully-fledged title where you play the titular character, created by a great god to help rid the world of it’s dark creatures that have manifested and invaded. Uncovering more to this land and the tales it tells will become clear as you progress further throughout, along with the guidance and assistance of a spider named Chii, whom you meet early on.
You’re given an Aegis, which wields the power to defeat these monsters however, later on you will start unlocking more Aegis abilities (three in fact) that will allow you to instantly transform between a sword, a bow and a magic staff. Once all these have been acquired, that’s when the game gets interesting. When you’re just starting out through the first world (or dream, rather) fighting the enemies seem dull and slow, where platforming sections are relatively easy to navigate across, leaving just a few sections that will get your fury motors running. Mainly because we found that when jumping through the platforming sections and there is an enemy shooting at you, you cannot block the attack with your shield until you step foot on the ground. This happened far too often for our liking and we never learnt. Not once. Moving swiftly on, it’s when you start developing new techniques, abilities and learning these new Aegis when you can wipe that sweat from off your brow and combine moves and manoeuvres into seamless play.
You’re given the standard health bar along with this title’s form of magic – Anima. However, in order to gain any Anima back that you’ve used, you must either cross over a checkpoint, which so happens to save your progress too, or deflect enemy attacks with your shield. It’s this combination that allows some fluid combat, when everything else seems dull.
Whilst this isn’t a pure metroidvania style game, this does have a world map with several areas and multiple levels within each area where you will be required to backtrack and load that level up later on in the game, depending on the type of quest. Or if you want to head back and collect collectables that you’ve now been able to discover such as the cute little Mudjins.
Some of the levels are quite short, and can be completed in under five minutes, whereas some levels could take you quite some time to complete, depending on the objective. There is an addition of time trials with each level also, if you like to ramp up the difficulty and earn extra Mudjins or other rewards.
The vibrant gorgeous art style through the dream worlds reflects the mise en abyme that this title has, with a darker story being told concurrently, which makes for a unique way of storytelling in games of this genre.
With a lot of content to be had, it’s hard to believe that until recently this was an episode title. Whilst we haven’t completed the game and are still working on completion, we feel that this title will rake in over 20 hours, if you’re wanting to unlock everything the game has to offer. There are lots of frustration to be had, but thankfully save points are usually located just ahead of a tough section, where you are guaranteed to die numerous times. But for the most part, it’s a well-thought out platformer, with hidden meanings and lots of depth, and death.
Pankapu is available to download from the Xbox Store, priced at £9.59.
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Two concurrent stories – one of light and one of dark make this a unique platformer with metroidvania elements worth the investment for the price tag alone. Plenty to keep you occupied and coming back to, but with some frustrating elements that doesn’t seem to fade.