A young girl screams. As fathers tend to do, hers enters her room and proceeds to tell her that it’s nothing. She just had a bad dream. This father of the year puts her on his lap and starts to read to her from a book; telling her that when he was little his grandmother would often tell him a story to chase the nightmares away. The story takes place in the “World of Dreams” which actually has a name, Omnia, which he could have said instead of “World of Dreams”, but I digress. I’m not father of the year. Everyone lived in harmony in the land of Omnia and the world was filled with hope. One fateful day a horde of creatures crossed the Veil that separated Omnia from the nightmare world. The creatures were called Hya`Nagis and started spreading their corruption wherever they went.
This would not do. Iketomi, the Hymn of Dreams, decided there was still time to act. He concentrated all the dream matter that was left in Omnia and created a guardian who would be capable of defeating the Hya`Nagi invasion. This guardian’s name was… wait for it… Pankapu. Iketomi is freaking out because he hasn’t heard from a forest spirit named Ohiti. So Iketomi, in his benevolence and power, gave our guardian the Aegis of Bravery. It gives him power and protection along with his red armor and sword.
This is where our adventure begins. We are to control our guardian through the parkour-laden, side-scrollin’, frustration-inducin’, progressively more difficult platformer. The developers, Too Kind Studios by way of the 1,149 backers on Kickstarter, then use a level of the game to show us how to play. We hit B to jump and hold it to jump higher. We have a shield we can produce with A, however we cannot produce said shield mid-jump. This frustrated me a bit because what about a jump would prevent him from being able to pull out his shield? He can swing his sword mid-jump. This does, at times, make you take hits that almost feel mandatory. In the middle of said jump we can even hit the X button and do a Mario style butt stomp by holding our sword straight down and hit the enemy with a good thump. Yet he can’t pull out his shield… Okay, I’ll move on.
The controls are tight and you can change direction mid-jump, which is handy in combat. Our little guardian looks really cool as he starts his mission to help Ohiti. On our way through the beginning levels we are introduced to a strange little spider whose name is Chii. Like Wii with a “CH” sound. Chii tells us that we can find him in the middle of Mudjin Mere but we will have to go through the Verdant Forest to get to him. Once we eventually find Ohiti he is sad. He is crying. His hope has faded and his Midjin friends are missing. He says he has lost all hope and tells us to leave him alone. This is when something strange happened. We did. We just walked away. What a novel concept, someone asks us to leave them alone and we do.
Midjins are little Kirby-like spirits that we will find all over Omnia and our collect-a-thon begins! Of course, they’re invisible so we have to find an item that will help us see them. But once that is obtained, yes we can start locating all there are to find in each level. The overworld map is introduced and opens up paths to get to each level we are to play. I likened it to Klonoa 2 on the PlayStation 2. I’m sure other games did it this way but for the life of me I can’t remember which ones they were. That one just stuck out in my head when I first saw the map with levels. Each dot on the map is a level we can play and they open up procedurally as we proceed (see what I did there?) through each bit of the story. When your marker is on the level, we can see if we collected all the Midjins and items that were available to be found.
The graphics are beautiful and the characters we play and fight all look amazing. I would love to be able to create these types of imaginative creatures and have them look as cool as they do in this title. Each enemy has a specific way to defeat them. Sometimes we need to use our shield to block their attacks and hit them while they are resting. Other times we can throw an item like a boomerang to hit the ones we can’t get close enough to hit normally because they go all turtle shell on us. And then we have others we hit with our sword and then have to quickly run away because they go all Starfleet captain and initiate self-destruct in hopes of capturing us in their explosions. The gameplay is varied like that throughout the levels and the developers have done quite a lot to keep the game interesting and desirable to progress through. Not to mention that it is story driven and we kind of want to see if the little girl will ever get back to bed.
Actually, I’m not sure how this story is really helping a little girl with her nightmare, but I’m awfully glad she had one and that we can play such a creative and enjoyable title like this one. The Kickstarter backers should be quite pleased with the product they helped bring to gamers on several platforms. Obviously, the Switch one is the best because we can switch between handheld and console mode to enjoy it anywhere at anytime. It plays just as well sitting in front of the television or sitting on the john. Will you help Pankapu finish his lofty goal of ridding the land of Omnia from the evil Hya`Nagi? Or will this become a Neverending Story?
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Pankapu is a fun platformer that varies the worlds, enemies, and gameplay so much that we can’t wait to see what the next stage looks and sounds like. With excellent controls (minus the lack of shield wielding mid-jump) and awesome music an amazing journey awaits you in the world of Omnia. The challenge is real and the levels can be quite difficult which really adds to a satisfying experience. Like the story’s premise, perhaps this is even an excellent game to play should you wake up screaming from a nightmare.
Jay has been an avid gamer since the Intellivision days. His hobbies include building PCs, 3D modeling and printing, and spending time with his children and dog.