This adorable game made a run for the heart, and was surprisingly succesful in the heist.
I could make this a long discussion or play with your expectations, but this time I'm going to tell it straight. PikuNiku is one of my favorite titles during last week's Gamescom 2018 show. Made by studio Sectordub, it’s a colorful mixture that reminds me so much of LocoRoco or games like it. The presentation immediately pulls you in, and married with the music and quirky gameplay it never lets go. PikuNiku made me laugh, scream and be a jerk to the world it brings to the table.
You play as a little lad with a head and two legs. This strange creature goes on an exploration to find what is exactly going on. You get thrown into a forgotten place, where a ghost has to teach you how to escape. From there, you do two things: talking and interacting. The player will speak to the inhabitants of this strange world where everybody doesn't know what to make of you. Initially, they see you as a beast, but soon enough you will earn their trust by fixing a bridge.
How do you fix that bridge? By kicking a spider to the other side of the water of course. Yeah, the main way you interact with anything is kicking it about as much as you can. This makes for a game that almost anybody can understand, but also delivers simple pleasures as the world learns about you. One of the minigames showcased in the demo was playing a round of basketball. Here you not only have to kick the ball, but also your opponent to simply stay ahead of the curve. It comes together in quite a magical way that kept me glued to the screen.
Your end goal of is bringing all of the characters together. It is your duty to solve their problems, become friends and make the world just a tiny bit lovelier. These weird abstract figurines showcased a lot of personality during my play session, so I was sort of bummed when it ended. That is the best thing I can say about the demo, which is sincerely a very good thing indeed.
After an extensive single-player introduction, myself and Arnaud De Bock (one the developers) played some co-op to close things off. It is here that we had to solve small puzzles together to push on. We had to stand on each other's heads, kick balls around and bring objects along to keep buttons pressed in. One of the levels showcased a race where we had sit in a car and just went. This created a true spectacle as we constantly bumped into each other, and tried to push the other off the screen. These moments were my fondest of Gamescom as a whole.
PikuNiku is looking incredibly delightful. It is something I didn't know much about going in, but I walked away a believer. What impressed me was the pure inventiveness of the puzzles and every little detail that was seemingly well crafted. Add to that the charming characters, easy to grasp gameplay and a lot of kicking about. PikuNiku has no release date, but I need it right about now. Please?