2019 has already seen some big, new AAA releases such as Kingdom Hearts 3 and Anthem. There is, however, an indie darling that has snuck under the radar: Pikuniku
The latest release from Devolver Digital has received a stellar critical response to stand amongst major titles. The puzzle platformer has the makings of an indie classic with a sinister sense of humour to boot.
At an estimated 2-4 hour campaign it’s not the longest game but it does make a perfect accompaniment to any Nintendo Switch library. A modest offering at less than £12 on the Nintendo e-shop it’s well worth the price tag.
The American studio was founded just nine years ago but has already established a respectable reputation in the indie market. They’ve formed lasting relationships with indie developers like Croteam, Dennaton Games and Gun Media.
Publishing some highly respected indie titles like Hotline Miami and The Talos Principle. Fans have come to expect simplistic fun gameplay from the publisher and they have delivered that again with Pikuniku.
Built in the style of games like Loco Roco, Pikuniku adopts a simplistic and textureless aesthetic. Barring the intentionally floaty controls, gameplay doesn’t offer anything particularly unique. Gameplay consists of jumps, rolls and the occasional grapples to traverse levels.
The player must solve a series of increasingly complex puzzles to unlock new abilities and reach new areas. It’s in the simplicity and familiarity of the game mechanics where it truly shines. But that’s only half the charm.
Pikuniku and The Townsfolk
We’ve seen from recent indie entries like Night In The Woods and What Remains Of Edith Finch that a compelling narrative can be the sole driving force behind a game. Pikuniku isn’t quite as hard-hitting as those games but it does tell a great story in a wonderful way.
The game is filled with character and debonair wit, that really makes the world feel lived in. Despite the short length, townsfolk from the game can leave a lasting impact with their unique brand of humour.
Meeting these characters plays a significant role in the game and you’ll have to complete tasks for them to progress. It’s a diverse group of strangers who all live in the grasp of fear and prejudice.
Telling a slightly harrowing story of a world being mined for its natural resources for the benefit of the few. Creating a sort of dystopian backdrop to an otherwise cute and harmless game.
Pikuniku vs Mr Sunshine
Mr Sunshine serves as the amalgamation of conglomerates in the society of Pikuniku. The wealthy magnate is responsible for depleting the natural resources in exchange for money.
The end game for the player is to spark a revolution and overthrow the current regime. What begins a simple trip into town, leads to imprisonment and a quirky adventure of political alignment.
We don’t want to spoil too much of the plot because the true mark of excellence is in the way Pikuniku is told. It’s a wonderful childlike fantasy, wrapped in serious real-world commentary and played to a jaunty tune.
It’s not the most challenging title but it is exactly the kind of game the Switch was made for. It’s easy to find yourself lost in the whimsical adventure and Pikuniku will rightly find itself amongst the indie classics.