Pikuniku is an odd game, to say the least. You play as a red pill with long, spindly legs. You’ll roll, jump, and kick your way through a bright and breezy world with a dark twist. It’s a strange game, sure, but you’ll play with an inane grin slathered across your face thanks to its twisted sense of humor and simple but fun puzzle platforming gameplay.
In the beginning, Piku is awoken by a friendly ghost. Upon leaving the following small, but complicated cave (which acts as a solid tutorial), you run into a village populated by colorful rotund creatures that think you are a scary, legendary monster. It’s up to you to prove that you’re not a monster but are, in fact, a friendly creature willing to help a small band of rebels in their just cause against the evil Mr. Sunshine.
Pikuniku review | Finding your feet
Reminiscent of Nintendo’s Freakyforms and Snipperclips, Piku controls like a newborn foal with surprising agility and balance. The valleys, platforms, and oceans of Pikuniku’s world offer little challenge to navigate. Piku, thanks to its freakishly long legs, is able to jump with more grace than your Marios and Luigis of this world. The animation of each jump is delightful, too. Piku jumps with grace, flipping through the air like a dolphin after a few too many. Holding down the jump button Piku into his pill form, allowing you to roll over terrain quickly and squeeze through small gaps.
Pikuniku has a fun gameplay loop throughout. You’ll travel to a new area, meet its colorful cast of locals, and help them rid the menace that troubles their lives via a simple three-hit boss fight. Whether they know it or not, a greedy pink blob (Mr. Sunshine) is after their livelihoods. He tears up the LocoRoco-esque landscape, taking corn, trees, and water, offering free money to all in exchange. While most of the locals are more than happy to receive free money, there are some who appreciate that no amount of free money can make up for a lack of corn, housing, and water.
Pikuniku review | Moments of bizarre calm
Each new area has colorful new characters to speak with. Similar to Night in the Woods, these friendly faces often have something witty, sharp, and slightly dark to say. Bubbling underneath the game’s bright and breezy exterior is a slightly twisted sense of humor. Jokes are made in expense of those happily accepting free money in place of goods, food, and even in wake of supposed sacrifice or kidnapping. One of my favorite lines of dialogue mentioned how someone should be happy because they should “think of the free exposure and experience” for their résumé. Characters delightfully bounce when talking in their lowercase, witty scrawl.
Pikuniku offers us a delightful world full of wit to explore and the game truly shines in these calm moments. Going from door to door in each village will earn you pleasant conversations ranging between topics such as when best to wash pasta dishes, how much someone loves flowers, and even a dance-off. You will want to explore every nook and cranny of Pikuniku’s minimalistic cut-out shapes world to experience these great scenes. Multiple hidden hilarious side stories and quests await, and reward the player with 3D trophies. Traversing a dangerous set of rooms in chase of a mighty piece of toast is one of the highlights.
Pikuniku review | A puzzling adventure
A healthy amount of simplistic puzzle platforming awaits you in Pikuniku. You’ll be tasked with lighting a room by spinning wires until they meet, navigating areas full of doors and switches, and kicking balls until they land in just the right places. There’s barely so much as a head-scratcher here, but it makes for a relaxing, family-friendly experience.
While the puzzles are never particularly difficult, however, some can be a little frustrating. A lot of the puzzles rely on kicking. Unfortunately, the kicking mechanic is a touch haphazard. Piku is meant to home-in on its kicking prey, but it can become confused when there are multiple targets. It’s also tricky to kick balls in exactly the place you want them to go. You’ll rely on trial and error more than a few times here, but there should never be too much of an issue for players of even basic skill level.
The off-beat, overly wacky music won’t help the more frustrating moments, either. Off-key notes coupled with loud bloops and bleeps in a kooky jazz-infused soundtrack does not make for a fun listen, unfortunately. It can get a bit much at times and you may well decide to turn the sound down.
Pikuniku review | Two is company
It will only take you an afternoon to do everything in Pikuniku, but it doesn’t matter. Its comparatively short length actually helps provide a breath of fresh air when compared to the AAA behemoths that dominate today’s market. To add to the game’s length, however, is a lovely co-op mode that is unrelated to the main story and has several exclusive stages. The game’s puzzles work wonderfully in co-op, with a slight increase in complexity when compared to what’s offered in the story.
To top it all off is another separate two-player mode, Baskick. In this mode, you will face off against someone else in an attempt to basket a ball three times in the opposition’s net. It’s a fun game that rivals the likes of Rayman Legend’s Kung-Foot mode. The only shame is that we can’t take the quirky co-op or Baskick online as ranked online play and leadboards could have been an excellent addition.
Pikuniku is an odd game, yes, but it is a fun, relaxing one to boot. There are few better ways to spend an afternoon than in its colorful, quirky world. It may not be long but you’ll have a big, dumb smile on your face the whole time; a pure realization of quality over quantity.