I have had very few experiences in my life that I would categorize as “hallucinogenic,” but after spending time with today’s title in the review, it is hard for me to describe it as anything less. How else would you describe confrontations with the Demon King of Toast, dance-off in top nightclubs between sentient leaves and robots, and conversation with worms so irradiated and bloated, they look like limes? This is a review of a weird and wacky platformer adventure is called Pikuniku for PC and Nintendo Switch.
Pikuniku comes to us from developer Sectordub and publisher Devolver Digital. Self-described as a “delightful dystopian adventure,” Pikuniku begins with an over-the-top infomercial from Sunshine Incorporated’s very own Mr. Sunshine. Mr. Sunshine, a pink cloud-shaped being with stick legs and a top hat, promises free money for all. All he asks in return is for the garbage that each town has a surplus of. As it would turn out, that the whole garbage schtick is just a cover to gather up mass quantities of trees, water, and… corn.
Keeping in the vein of oddly shaped creatures, you play as Piku, an oblong red spot with black dots for eyes and long, spindly legs. While neighboring villagers have passed down stories about you, referring to you as The Beast, this delightful little red bean must win their trust and their hearts in order to discern the true nature of Mr. Sunshine’s plan. After all, is free money really free?
Pikuniku is a brightly colored platformer-meets-puzzler. With no arms to speak of, Piku must push or kick objects into places, curl up in a ball, or use its legs to fling itself from point to point in order to traverse the map and win the day. The controls feel fairly fluid whether you opt for a keyboard or controller.
There are a series of mini-games scattered throughout the world which help you advance the story. You will find yourself competing in a dance-off against the reigning King of Dance, rerouting electrical current to restart a tram line, or play in Pikuniku’s smash sporting event, Baskick… which is basketball… with kicking… because no one has arms. You will also face a series of boss fights along the way in your efforts to throw off the shackles of your impending robot overlords… I mean, protectors.
Pikuniku also has a two-player co-operative made and, I have to say, it is is quite delightful. Two players share a screen to complete each challenging levels. These levels are timed, so it gives you and your favorite co-bean an opportunity to set and beat the times you put on record. That’s right, your partner will play as Niku: an orange version of Piku.
In all of its wacky wonderment, I found myself in an odd place of both heartily enjoying each obscure moment that Pikuniku threw at me, but also questioning who, exactly, the audience for this game was. Its bright and cheery design choices in color, character design, and music make it feel like an extension of trippy kids programs like Yo! Gabba Gabba, but there are some moments and dialogue that get pretty mature for the kids who might play this otherwise E-rated game.
Pikuniku is $12.99 USD for Nintendo Switch and PC.
Compare To: Swordbrother: Sword & Sworcery, Battleblock Theatre
Note: Our copy was reviewed on PC with a code provided by PR.