It was a year ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. It all began on an unusually crisp morning in April. The wind was whipping through my hair as tears streamed down my face brought forth by the bitter cold. As I made my way across the bridge I patiently waited in a line of thousands of others just like me; all of us trying to get through the doors of this massive building before us so that we may revel in the wonders displayed at PAX East 2018. I journeyed down the escalator and up several aisles before the sea of people parted. In front of me stood a booth with neon lights and two bean bag chairs laid out before a screen. And then suddenly he appeared. I’ve never seen anyone quite like him; he displayed a striking crimson complexion and when he stood tall, boy did he have legs for days. His small black perfectly symmetrical eyes met my gaze, and it was love at first sight. It was in that moment that Pikuniku stole my heart.
Fast-forward a year later and I’ve finally been reunited with my love. Developed by Sectordub and published by Devolver Digital, Pikuniku was released on PC and the Nintendo Switch last week. This quirky puzzle-exploration platformer begins with a ghost trying to rouse Piku from his slumber. Once awake, Piku begins exploring the world around him and soon encounters other creatures from the nearby village who unfortunately do not greet him with open arms. They accuse him of being the legendary monster they’ve heard stories about and throw him into a cage. Come to find out though, he’s no monster at all, and the villagers immediately seek his help in a number of their dilemmas from problems as small as repairing a broken bridge to more curious issues like fixing a damaged toaster that releases an evil Toast God and portal to Toastopia.
Each village is its own colorful world and each with a unique set of obstacles to overcome. The one common thread that ties the villages together however, is the threat of Mr. Sunshine and his corporation. On the surface he seems like a genuinely good guy; he wants to use his robots to take your trash away and in return give you free money. Sounds like a sweet deal to me! However, as players explore the villages and dig deeper into the goings on of Mr. Sunshine, it becomes evident that he may not be the nice guy that he portrays. In order to protect the villagers from Mr. Sunshine’s exploits Piku teams up with some peculiar characters to form a Resistance and put an end to the corruption.
There are main storyline missions to complete but the more you explore the more you’ll realize that other characters need your help as well. Piku can walk, roll, jump, kick, and swing his way through each level. The puzzles are fairly simple to solve and while there are a few boss battles I promise that they are painless. In addition to the main story there is also a co-op mode where players control an orange version of Piku who is appropriately named Niku. Players can race cars around loop-de-loops, try to get through a level while tethered together, and work with one another to overcome obstacles and solve puzzles. There’s no story to the co-op but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. The only regrettable part of the co-op experience is that at only nine levels it’s too short.
Pikuniku is nothing short of a good time. It’s funny and snarky and the dialogue options given to players to respond with are often more clever than the next. Players can even take the fun up a notch and dress Piku up with various accessories like x-ray vision glasses or a pencil hat that lets you draw your own masterpiece. And if the clever dialogue and eccentric characters don’t put a smile on your face the zany music certainly will. Even a stroll through the flowers delighted me as each stem released its own note, creating a brief but lovely ditty every time I passed through the field.
At around four hours long, Pikuniku never takes itself too serious. How can it when one of the obstacles is to enter a dance battle with a robot or play hide and seek with a rock? But underneath Pikuniku’s layers of quirks is a story that teaches us not to cast judgement on others, lend a helping hand to those in need, and in the face of corruption you must resist and find a volcano to launch the corrupt from.
Pikuniku is available on PC and Nintendo Switch.
Check out the trailer below: