This game surprised me. In a very positive way, because when I first read about it I assumed it would be another run of the mill attempt at a platformer that probably will end up being forgotten after a week. I realise that I was wrong about it now, because Pankapu takes every chance it can to show why you should be sitting up and paying close attention to this take on a platforming adventure. This game is perfectly at home on the Nintendo Switch and will easily bring a sheer sense of joy to those who add it to their console library.
The opening sequence instantly caught my attention with its comic book visual used to introduce the story. The scene is set as you begin your adventure in Omnia “The World of Dreams”, witnessing the rise of the Gangreyn and their crossover from the realm of nightmares. From there you witness the birth of Pankapu, the titular character who becomes the Dream Keeper, and begin your adventure across Omnia in search of a way to end the nightmare. Along the journey you meet a very colourful cast of characters including the magical spider Chii who becomes your companion. Of course, in direct contrast to said colourful characters are the numerous enemies present in the game mostly coloured in dark hues of black and purple. These foes are from the aforementioned Realm of Nightmare, and it’s up to game Pankapu to stop them.
The graphical style present here is nothing short of mesmerising, all the bold and bright colours in the world are inviting and appealing and add a great sense of calm to everything. This is an important trait for a place called The World of Dreams, as it really does give a sense of tranquility. The music also greatly adds to this with its funky upbeat vibes and cheerful tones. You can easily understand just how much thought has gone into creating this world, and the charm shines through. Pankapu’s own design is vibrant too, his armour makes him stand out amongst the dark enemies and his face, while rather a dark comparison to the rest of his colour scheme, shines thanks to his bright eyes.
A further point about Pankapu that I really enjoyed is being able to upgrade your attacks and learn new abilities along the way. This makes the game more immersive as it evolves from a simple “slash enemy to death then move on and repeat” and gives it more of a strategic element. Learning to block attacks is also essential in this so it’s always best to make good use of the shield, unless you want enemies in later areas to be able to grab you and throw you aside like a doll. One of the earlier skills you acquire is the ability to throw your sword out in front of you, which is quite useful against quite a lot of enemies you encounter. Other upgrades include enhanced attack damage, additional sword attacks and even different weapons. These definitely add lots more to the game’s combat and encourage you to try out various combinations as you progress.
The only other point I could raise in this review is that sometimes the controls get a little bit hard to use quickly. Having to switch between a jump and block in a short space of time is pretty difficult and the same can be said for having to move across a sloped platform whilst trying to slash at an enemy in the area underneath you. These points aside though I have little else to dislike about this title. The incredible design blended with interesting characters and well thought out environments all work effectively to create a wonderful adventuring experience. This game is something I would highly recommend to Nintendo Switch owners, and therefore score it a very lovely 8/10.
Pankapu is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $11.99/£10.99. In order to write this review I received a code from a PR representative. This has in no way influenced my opinion or writing.