After a successful Kickstarter campaign and episodic release on PC, the complete version of Pankapu is now on consoles.
The story of Pankapu is familiar but filled with some interesting characters. Essentially, the world has been invaded by evil spirits known as Hya'Nagis who have crossed the veil between dreams and nightmares. A powerful being named Iketomi the Hymn of Dreams creates Pankapu to rid the world of these evil spirits.
For an indie title, the presentation in Pankapu is off the charts. This is most evident in the absolutely gorgeous hand-drawn art style used throughout the adventure. The immense amount of detail put into characters and environments is astounding and this is definitely one of the best-looking indie games that I've ever played.
Pankapu is an action-platformer that dishes out healthy doses of both. You'll come across segments full of combat followed by stretches of pure platforming and once in a while, they'll be mixed together. There are also tons of secret collectibles and upgrades for you to find, many of which can't be acquired on your first trip through a level. As Pankapu learns new abilities, you have the option to backtrack and grab the previously inaccessible items and upgrades.
Pankapu starts slowly with many of its early levels feeling very short and simple. There are no major platforming hurdles and the combat consists mostly of mindlessly swinging your sword and occasionally needing to hold your shield up for a quick second. There are 100 collectible Mudjins (floaty little creatures) in each of Pankapu's four worlds but the first 100 are generally very simple to grab and many are placed directly on the level's main path.
I was thrown for quite a loop when I reached the second world and it was significantly more difficult. I was caught even more off guard when I unlocked the second Aegis which completely transforms Pankapu from a powerful knight into an agile but weaker archer. Not knowing anything about the game going in, I had no idea there was more than one form for Pankapu to take. This second world is where Pankapu really starts to open up. It starts to challenge you with new enemy types and makes you think which form is best to use in which situation. It also introduces nebulas that add elemental abilities to your attacks and defensive moves.
The third and fourth worlds continue to introduce clever and fun new mechanics that keep every level feeling exciting and worthwhile. Late game boss battles will test your mettle (and at times, your patience) but they're implemented to make sure you've paid attention to all of your abilities and to see how proficient you've become with them. The platforming sections are never quite as brutal as some of these big bosses but they ramp up in difficulty quite a bit when compared to the first world.
After my first couple hours with Pankapu, I expected to sail through the rest of the campaign and move on from this gorgeous action platformer. I had no idea that I still had more than 6 hours of challenging, thoughtful content in front of me at that time but I'm glad that I did as Pankapu ended up being one of my most pleasant surprises of the year.
- + Tremendously detailed graphics
- + 3 Aegis forms and 4 Nebulas give you a great variety of play-styles to choose from
- + Loads of valuable collectibles to find
- - Starts quite slowly
- - The later bosses are extremely difficult