Developer: Cereal Games
Publisher: Badland Publishing
Genre(s): Role-Playing, Action, Adventure, Other
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 27/05/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Pecaminosa is a pixel noir adventure. I played as an ex-cop with a dream for revenge. I navigated an interconnected world, met an interesting cast of characters, and enjoyed a wonderful jazz soundtrack all throughout. Is this adventure one worth going on? Find out in this Rapid Review.
The story in Pecaminosa was surprisingly deep and well thought out. Throughout my journey, I met a variety of different characters. These characters were important as there were important bits of information hidden in nearly every conversation. I thought the characters were a great source of comedic relief. I liked the rivalries between the non-playable characters and enjoyed helping the characters through their struggles. The developers also did an excellent job with their theming. There were scattered bags of litter, homeless people, and graffiti. All these inclusions truly sell the crime-ridden world that I explored. The developers did a great job building an enjoyable world to explore.
Unfortunately, one of the issues I had with the game was the way in which players are reminded of their tasks. Initially, the game guides players that need help with the map. Key locations are highlighted ensuring that nobody will get lost. As time goes on, I explored areas not featured within the map. This time, the developers had non-playable characters reference key landmarks. This technically was enough, but the directions were given before I travelled there so once I arrived, I completely forgot where to go. I checked in the options menu, where key directions are located, and nothing was listed. When I went to the completely wrong side of the area, nothing prevented me from travelling that way. Reiterating key ideas or including immersive impasses would have kept me on track to success. The directions are there, but I would have appreciated guidance when I got lost.
In the Loop
The gameplay includes many excellent features. Sure, there are also some disappointing ones, but the core experience is very fun. I shot enemies with my gun, dashed around the levels, and talked to people to complete tasks. It is simple and straightforward gameplay, but the core loop is effective. Unfortunately, there are many things that bring down the experience. My character’s walk speed was incredibly slow, and I kept running out of bullets (though this may have been due to getting lost in the desert). Moreover, certain puzzles were challenging not because they were supposed to be, but because the telegraphs were not precise with what the game wanted. For example, in one level, the player must destroy red crystals. Instead of facing them head-on, the way to damage the crystal is to stand above the pedestal and look upwards.
It did not only happen with environmental assets. Some of the bosses feature hit boxing that does not seem fair. This is one of the most crucial elements of the game as, without consistency, I found the game to be unrewarding. It was especially frustrating because the bosses had amazing designs. Their attack patterns were amply telegraphed, they each felt unique and fun to fight. I enjoyed fighting all the bosses. However, another major grievance is that there are long periods of time on certain bosses where they are invincible to player bullets. This was a fine decision and was clearly telegraphed, but considering this decision, I found the bosses had too much health and got tedious. Giving the bosses less health would have also helped remedy my insufficient ammunition problem. Though the bosses were well-designed, there were some lacklustre design elements that brought down my excitement.
I’m a bad guy
The enemy designs were also enjoyable. Again, some of them had too much health, running me out of bullets, but apart from that same grievance, the enemies had an excellent design. One of my favourites was a demon that flew directly above you and attacked from behind. Instead of retreating from it like the other enemies, the developers encouraged that I run towards the enemy and capitalize while it is attacking where I used to be. It was unique. I had not seen anything like it before. Sure, some enemies were more basic, but on a large scale, the enemies were enjoyable to fight.
Not only do the enemy and boss designs get more complex as time goes on, but the character also unlocks new abilities. The game implements a L.I.F.E system, and I was able to upgrade my Luck, Intelligence, Force, and Endurance. This was a nice spin on an upgrade tree. The player earns points when they level up and can increase each respective statistic. Then, once eight of two consecutive statistic upgrades have been selected, you receive a perk. I did not receive all the perks on my run-through, so experimenting with all the strategies gave me a reason to consider replaying the game. I really enjoyed experimenting with this system.
To supplement the life system, there are a few customizable costumes that changed my statistics, items that can be found on the ground, and a currency system. The costumes did not greatly benefit the experience. It was obvious which clothing gave the best stats. The items on the other hand added depth to the gameplay. I could find some “Mack Janiels”, an adult drink that would not only heal me but also intoxicate my character with excessive use. This forced me to manage my resources, as these drinks could not be purchased. Moreover, the monetary system in Pecaminosa was unique. I started the game by retrieving my pistol from the pawnshop and then earning more currency by pawning my belongings. This is handy especially with the lack of bullets in the game which is something the pawnshop happens to sell. I enjoyed these additional features in Pecaminosa.
Another great feature in this game was the opportunity to play Blackjack. It is simple, but I really enjoyed it. There were atmospheric music, clearly written instructions, and it did not cost me any money whatsoever. I spent a decent bit of time here as a time-waster, and I found it could be the perfect thing to pick up on the side while waiting for a new game to download, or for a lengthy update. This simple touch shows the developer’s effort and passion for their game.
The theming in Pecaminosa was excellent. As I mentioned previously, the health recovery is done with Mack Janiels and the currency is poker chips. These subtle touches make the game ever so much more charming. The pixel art is also great too. I thoroughly enjoyed the visual style. Additionally, the sound is also excellent. Pecaminosa features a jazz-inspired soundtrack. Each song fits the theme of the game, the theme of the environment, and is different from the previous pieces. Sometimes, certain music tracks get repetitive, especially tracks where the player spends a long time listening to them (for example if they were lost in the desert). However, largely, the music design was great.
Finally, I want to explain that while there are some issues with hitboxes in how the player speed is too slow, and ammunition is far too scarce, I got in contact with the developer and they mentioned that they are releasing a patch for the Switch version soon and that they are remedying some issues including player walk speed, the number of bullets granted to the player, and some issues with the hitboxes. Some of my major issues with the game would be resolved if these issues are fixed. However, at the time of review, these issues have not been changed. Also, my game crashed a couple of times. I showed the developer this as well, so this may be patched in the future.
Overall, Pecaminosa is an excellent adventure held back by a sluggish walk speed, the frantic search for bullets, and some minor bugs. Even still, I think Pecaminosa is a good game. However, I would recommend waiting for an update until checking this adventure out. I enjoyed my time with Pecaminosa.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase Pecaminosa on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.