Pikuniku Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: SectorDub

Publisher: Devolver Digital

Release Date: 24/01/2019

Price as of Article: $11.69 USD, £10.52 GBP (10% off release sale)

Game code provided by Sandbox Strategies for review

Story

As a parent to a young child, it’s very important to find things you can all do together. As gaming is my passion, it’s often really nice to be able to play a family-friendly game with your child which isn’t violent, has a simple enough story, and actually has some learning involved, and Pikuniku is one such game.

Easy to pick up and learn, and one you can play with a young child, family member or friend and enjoy. Pikuniku has a solo adventure mode which has a five hour campaign where you control a little red monster with two legs and an oval shaped head. The story involves a conspiracy set in a dystopian future where the Sunshine corporation is visiting villages and making the inhabitants rich by dropping money in exchange for resources. Something isn’t right though, and it’s up to you to explore and chat to the inhabitants. Before you know it you will be helping them out, meeting new friends – my favourite are the worms – and having a jolly good time making the world a better place. The dialogue is witty and kept me entertained all the way through.

Gameplay

Pikuniku can be broken down into two main modes. First of all, the solo adventure mode which took me around 5 hours to complete, and a co-op mode where you can play with another person to get through levels together. Pikuniku is fine played by adults but it’s not the most challenging game you will play. In fact, it’s not very difficult at all, but it is great at getting a younger audience involved and learning about puzzles, adventure, and exploration. 

In adventure mode, you take control of Piku, and begin to explore straight away. You will meet a little ghost who sets you on your way. Most of the game is spent meeting inhabitants and helping them with various quests like fixing a bridge or bringing back water to the worm cave.  As you move further, you get to uncover more of the story and it’s all paced nicely. In fact, you can go through it as fast or as slow as you like, depending on how much exploration you wish to take part in. I highly recommend you visit as many of the inhabitant’s dwellings as possible as you never know what you will find out or get involved in next. There are a bunch of mini-games, too, which changes things up. Early on, you will challenge one of the inhabitants to a game of basketball where you will have to kick a watermelon into a net. There are a few of these mini-games spread throughout the campaign, which are a good distraction. 

The character Piku is fun to control and a funny, charming little thing which just made my daughter laugh wherever he went – in fact, I would say she was in hysterics, at times. You see, our little, red, long-legged monster has the ability to kick it legs out for extra long kicks, Inspector Gadget style, which is useful for kicking items around the worlds you explore. It comes in especially handy when needing to solve some of the puzzles, usually simple stuff like kicking an acorn onto a switch so a door opens. 

You will also discover a number of very stylish hats which also have uses to help you complete certain quests. Is the scarecrow not scary enough? Put on a pencil hat and draw a scarier face. Need to make flowers grow taller so you can use them to get to a higher ledge? No problem, use the water hose hat. There are more instances throughout, which is a nice little addition. 

You can even kick your friends! Now, I don’t advocate violence, and I had to teach my little one that kicking things is not the right thing to do, but it was necessary in this game for solving puzzles and to get “red man” – as my daughter called him – to swing from ledge to ledge using those long legs as a way to swing with handily placed hooks or kicking the stuffing out of items to get them to move to the right place.

Piku can not only kick but also put his legs away completely so that he becomes a rolling oval shape and just roll down hills or sink in water. It’s all really clever and controlling him feels great. There are some little frustrating parts where you may need to use those legs to push an item into the right place but sometimes they may get stuck against the enviroinment and will require persistence to move. There are a number of bosses, which are a bunch of large robots that all look the same, but you will have to dispatch each one in a different way which I won’t spoil here. Again just the right amount of challenge for a younger audience, I would say. There are no difficulty options to make the game harder, unfortunately. 

Co-op mode lets one of you control Piku and the other Niku, and you have to work together to solve a number of levels, each with differing challenges. My daughter’s favourite was racing to the finish in the race car one! Some require a little more thought in solving puzzles, however, and though my daughter and I were able to complete a number of levels, some were a little too tough so I had to get the missus to play instead, and she enjoyed it just as much. I enjoyed both modes for differing reasons: the solo adventure is a nice little way to spend an afternoon or two, and co-op is a nice way to involve someone else, often with funny results. You have to help each other by one of you getting the other to a high ledge or splitting up so one  can let the other through a door, whereby the screen handily splits. It’s all very playable and fun. 

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Audio

The audio in Pikuniku is a nice mixture of happy adventurous music and it’s really sweet to listen to when playing, if a little too loud, but you can turn this down in the settings. Our little monster makes some cute noises from time to time and when playing playing co-op, you can use the shoulder buttons to try and communicate. 

Visuals & Performance

The visuals here are super simple but very colourful and inviting. Visuals on games like this don’t need to be massively detailed, as long as they do the job and they are absolutely charming here. Everything is nice and clear and the menus are super simple. The visuals make it nice and easy to understand what you need to do, which is important when a lot of the game involves puzzles. It ran wonderfully in both docked and handheld modes. You can play using the Joy-Cons or full controllers, no problem. 

Value

Pikuniku is currently £10.52 GBP with a 10% off sale included at launch, which is good value for what you get here. If you have a young family and want to play a lovely little adventure then this is a tenner and change well spent. Add in the co-op and you will be occupied for a good length of time. There are also lots of little secrets to find to 100% the game, so make sure you look everywhere! 

Pros

P

Simple, so younger children can enjoy with an adult 

Cons

P

Not very challenging