Tag Archives: Devolver Digital

If you play Pikuniku, you’ll get free money (not really)

With a name like Pikuniku, you’d think this game would be harder to explain or some kind of Pokemon offshoot, like Hey You, Pikachu!. It is, in fact, deceptively simple, and that’s not at all a bad thing. Weird, for sure, but weirdly simple, and I’m sitting here smiling just thinking about it. Before you read anything further, I highly suggest you put this game’s soundtrack from Calum Bowen on.

Right, so…Pikuniku is an absurdly wonderful puzzle-exploration game that takes place in a strange but playful world where not everything is as happy as it seems despite all the bright colors and bouncy tunes. You play as a “monster” from a cave and must help out a number of peculiar characters overcome struggles, uncover a deep state conspiracy, and start a fun little revolution in this delightful dystopian adventure. Down with robots, as they say, and don’t let the free money bit fool you; when it comes to money, nothing is ever truly free.

The main thrust of Pikuniku is its platforming, which I can liken to things like Night in the Woods and LittleBigPlanet. A bit floaty, but you can still get to where you need to go and, if not, try jumping on a tree, cloud, or citizen for extra reach. After that, there are several light-hearted puzzles to deal with, but none of them are overly complicated, and the same can be said of the boss fights, which are fun and easy, grandiose even, and that’s all good. I’m not a huge fan of splatformers–I just started to play Celeste, and I don’t see myself getting too far up that mountain–and sometimes I just want to jump around in a relaxing fashion and explore the world leisurely without being chased by some nightmarish monster or having to have super reflexes when it comes to pressing buttons and landing on teeny-tiny platforms.

As the red “beast,” you can run, roll, and kick things, and the animations for all these actions are smooth and hilarious to see happen. Plus, you can put different hats or cosmetics on the main character to change its look and perform specific abilities, such as the watering can hat that lets you water flowers to reach new areas via jump-pads. There are coins to collect, along with trophy statues and small scenes involving bugs, but all these are just that–collectibles. The world is full of fun characters to interact with, ranging from web-spinning spiders to round worms to people that look like they came straight off the pages of the Mr. Men books. The dialogue is goofy and enjoyable, and it is worth chatting with characters just to get a vibe for how they live in this world, and you’ll occasionally get a dialogue choice though it definitely doesn’t make a big difference overall.

Alas, I did not get to try out the co-op mode of Pikuniku, but that’s okay, as I can only imagine it being slightly frustrating considering the somewhat non-precise controls for steering your character and hitting rocks around. But it’s there if you want it. The main story mode is only a few hours long and pretty linear, and I played through it in multiple phases, usually pausing after a boss fight; a part of me wanted to go back and find all the hidden collectibles, but I didn’t get a sense that anything would truly come of it…so I’ll leave those for others to gather up. I wonder how many hats you can get, too.

As it currently stands, Pikuniku is one of my favorite games of the year so far. It’s delightful. It’s quirky and embraces its strangeness, and I love that. Don’t be surprised when it shows up on my end-of-year GOTY list.

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2019 Game Review Haiku, #22 – Pikuniku

Start revolution
Against tyrant, free money
Bouncy jumps, tunes, talk

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

I’m in it to win it with Minit

Minit was one of my top 10 games that I didn’t get to play in 2018. I have actually had a copy of the game installed in my Steam library since getting it via the Humble Day of the Devs 2018 Bundle, and yet, the irony here is that, for a game where each session of actually playing the game only lasts for sixty seconds, I never found the time to play it. Sure, I’m to blame there, but it’s not like I have anything super serious going on in my life currently. Well, the good news is that, according to this very post on Grinding Down, I have now finally played a bit of Minit. Not enough yet to win it, but I’m in it…still.

For those unaware, Minit is an action, puzzle-driven adventure thing developed by Jan Willem Nijman, co-founder and one-half of Vlambeer, Kitty Calis, who contributed to Horizon Zero Dawn, Jukio Kallio, a freelance composer, and Dominik Johann, the art director of Crows Crows Crows. It is based around time. Basically, the premise is that each of the player’s lives only lasts for one minute, resulting in tiny sessions of exploring the world over sixty seconds at a time. With each interval, the player will learn more about the environment and gain new items to help progress further and further. Inching forward slowly but surely is the name of the game.

It’s a pretty novel idea, executed extremely well. Other games that have done something similar to this, such as Half-Minute Hero, surely exist, but I haven’t played them. So, for me, Minit has been a truly exciting game to play. One, it’s a ton of fun to play, and the time limit never feels restrictive; in fact, as my little hero’s time winds down, I find myself getting excited to try exploring a different path on the next go. It is quite freeing. Two, I absolutely love Minit‘s look, which is clean and unobtrusive and does not end up distracting you too much when searching for something to do to make progress. Third, the usage of various home bases makes exploring new areas pain-free and getting around much easier.

Minit has you playing as a small bird-like pixel character–he kind of reminds me of a duck, but, y’know, a pixel duck with nothing more than a bill to go off of–who lives in a black and white world and is cursed with only ever living for a single minute. Despite all that, it’s an action adventure game just like The Legend of Zelda, with puzzles to solve too. The good news is that various actions do have permanence in the world, so dying doesn’t mean it was all for naught. For instance, finding key items to open up more progress stay in your inventory when you are reborn, and if you previously helped someone with a task, they remain helped. Thank goodness. This would be a much more cruel and nearly impossible game to play if you were forced to accomplish all this over again in your short-as-heck life.

According to How Long to Beat, Minit is a short game, roughly three or four hours long. I’ve already put about an hour and a half into it, so I guess I am halfway there. Although it has now been a week or so since I played it, and I fear I might have forgotten where I’m supposed to go next. I’m at the inn, looking to fill it up with patrons. Hmm. Wish me luck, and then, after about sixty seconds, wish me luck once more.

Don’t stop for nothing when it comes to High Hell’s breakneck combat

I continue to mistakenly refer to High Hell as How High. Y’know, that classic stoner flick from 2001 about multi-platinum rap superstars Redman and Method Man as Jamal and Silas, two regular guys who smoke something magical, ace their college entrance exams, and wind up at Harvard–hilarity ensues. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve seen it more than once. Also, I’m sure I’m not alone in this conundrum. Either way, the two entities are desperately unlike, and that’s good, because I don’t think playing a videogame version of How High would be all that enjoyable. High Hell, on the other hand, is a real hoot…

High Hell is currently one of the freebies for the month of May for those with Twitch Prime, which I finally set up a month or two ago, mostly to get some free cosmetics for Fortnite. It seems like it is on the same level as Microsoft’s Games with Gold program, and I like that I’m getting the games for free permanently, unlike with PlayStation Plus, which means I don’t feel extra pressure to play through them sooner than later. We also got Pyschonauts, Clustertruck, Gone Home, Titan Souls, and I, Hope. Some of those I’ve played, and some I’ve not, so, for me, it’s been a good balance of new things to try out along with some acquiring a few classics I can open with a different launcher.

Right. Let’s cut immediately to the action now, because that’s what High Hell is all about. It’s a neon-soaked, arcade-action first-person shooter from Terri Vellmann (Heavy Bullets) and Doseone (Enter the Gungeon, Gang Beasts). I’m aware of all three of those games, though I’ve never touched ’em, but a part of me suspects one or two are waiting to be installed in my Steam library. In this one, you must take on the criminal underground with a gun that never needs reloading and bring lethal salvation to those that have fallen from the light. Er, something like that. Devolver Digital is behind it, and if you have played any of their games, you know they go big, bold, and right for the jugular. Also, they aren’t afraid to be a little goofy. Some examples that I’ve actually tasted include: Hotline Miami, Luftrausers, and Gods Will Be Watching.

The story is purposely thin and mostly told through mission objectives, such as burn three Employee of the Month paintings, destroy two wiener pumps, deface corporate effigies, and kill Beelzebot. There are main objectives and side objectives and even smaller side tasks, such as burning piles of cash, but the true goal is to stay alive and shoot down anybody or anything targeting you and your health meter. For each successful kill, you get a little bit of health back, which is good, because it doesn’t take much to bring you to your knees and health pick-ups are few and far between. You can methodically and slowly inch your way forward or charge ahead guns blazing, and both plans of attack have their moments, but you need to be quick with your shots because the enemies or big bosses don’t pull any punches.

I’m currently around level 12 or 13–I can’t remember, it’s all a pink-and-gray blur–out of 20 total missions, and I’m having a fantastic time. I normally belittle myself and lack the self-esteem to feel good about playing this type of fast-paced, twitch-based shooters, but I’m actually doing all right. Sure, I get stuck on a couple of levels, but repetition helps iron out the wrinkles and improve my playthrough each time, breaking it down to an almost exact science if you can pull off each shot. Granted, I’m not hitting speedrunning times, but that’s never been my goal; remember, the only game I’ve speedrunned so far is Gone Home.

I’m hoping to see High Hell all the way to its conclusion, but I don’t know if there is more to do after that. Or, even if there is, I don’t know if it is something I will care about. I’m enjoying the frenetic nature of these levels, and jumping off buildings to parachute away after completing all objectives is beyond satisfying, but I might have my fill by the end. We’ll see. For now, I’ll keep kicking down doors and blasting anything that gets in my way.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #26 – Hotline Miami

2013 games completed Hotline Miami

Wear animal masks
To wreak havoc and spill blood
‘CAUSE THE PHONE SAYS SO

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.