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Game Info:

Pankapu
Developed by: Too Kind Studio
Published by: Plug In Digital
Release date: September 28, 2017
Available on: Linux, macOS, PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
Genre: Platformer
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Everyone with mild fantasy violence
Price: $11.99

Thank you Plug In Digital for sending us this game to review!

Pankapu was successfully Kickstarted in 2015 and the first chapter was released on PC in 2016. In September of 2017,the second episode became available and the complete edition was released on current generation consoles. The complete edition sells for $11.99 on all platforms.

This 2D platformer tells two tales. One is of Pankapu, a valiant warrior given the quest of saving Omnia, the world of dreams, from an invasion of Hya’Nagis from the nightmare world. Pankapu’s story is being read to a young boy named Djaha'rell who suffers from nightmares and is recovering from a personal trauma that is slowly revealed throughout the game.

Like many platformer games, Pankapu can explore various areas by jumping across moving platforms while avoiding various obstacles like electric currents, boulders, and retractable spikes. Many enemies resemble slimes and bats, though several original forms appear as well. At first the slime creatures aren’t too threatening, but they soon get bigger and start spitting at you, exploding, and shooting laser beams in your general direction. Thankfully, Pankapu has or soon acquires a countermeasure to each attack type.

Pankapu can take on three different Aegis/forms. The warrior/Bravery mode gives him the defense and the ability to block attacks with his shield. While the heavy armor makes Pankapu more durable, it weighs him down and in this form he cannot stand on red crystal platforms without them disintegrating. The archer/Ardour mode makes Pankapu more nimble and lighter. The ranged attacks are nice and the ability to dodge attacks are crucial to advancing in many dimly lit caverns. The final mage/Faith form isn’t available until the second half of the game. The mage Aegis can heal and use water/ice attacks.

Pankapu
Highlights:

Strong Points: Beautiful artwork; fun and challenging gameplay
Weak Points: Framerate drops and crashes on the Switch
Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence and magic use; nudity

Many levels have various shrines that strengthen Pankapu’s various forms and abilities. Every level has Mudjins (winged slimes) in them that often takes some keen eyesight and skill to locate and retrieve them all. Vary rarely are they along the “beaten path”. For every twenty-five rescued Mudjins, Pankapu will receive a Lutanite fragment which will add another health diamond if four of them are collected. Some levels have Lutanites in them which are worth replaying for if you missed it the first time around.

Replaying levels is a given between collecting Mudjins you’ve missed and ones that were inaccessible beforehand. Many levels have sections that require abilities that were not available on your first run through. The Ardour’s double jump skill and the warrior’s ability to remove red crystals blocking the path are a couple of examples of skills needed to unlock inaccessible areas of levels early on in the game. I like how the world map shows you how many Mudjins are in a level and how many you have collected. Each level also has a silhouette of the special items available and they are filled in once retrieved.

Pankapu is pretty challenging later on in the game and I’ll admit that I happily left some Mudjins behind as they were too much of a hassle to retrieve. Granted there are plenty of checkpoints and I’m grateful that they replenish your health when you first get to them. Unfortunately, they don’t fill up your health every time you visit them - only when you first activate and respawn from them.

The difficulty was just about right and I enjoyed this game in short gaming sessions. I don’t think my sanity/blood pressure could survive several hour long play sessions. I’m thankful for the portability of the Switch version and this game is great to play while waiting at the vet or doctor’s office.

Pankapu
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 78%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Unfortunately, the Switch version does have some of its own drawbacks. One time I completed a level and I wasn’t sure of if it was loading or if it froze. Thankfully, it was loading without the loading icon. I did however get an error once and lost a significant amount of progress in a chapter since I had to start it over from the beginning upon relaunching the game.

The visuals are astounding in this game and I love the vivid colors and art style. The Switch ran this title well for the most part, but there is some noticeable stuttering. This game is bound to look good no matter what format you play it on.

The audio is well done though it doesn’t impress me as much as the visuals. The voice acting is good and the background music is pleasant to listen to. The music didn’t get in the way, stick in my head, or make me want to buy the soundtrack.

From a moral standpoint, Pankapu is pretty family friendly. There is cartoon violence and some fantasy magic. There are various deities and elemental characters in the game. Pankapu is created by the god of dreams, Iketomi. In the beginning of the game there is some “Barbie” caliber (curves but no details) nudity shown.

If you love platformer games and don’t mind the fantasy deities, violence, and magic, Pankapu is worth adding to your Switch library. I look forward to future games from Too Kind Studio.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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