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Pikmin 4 Review

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Fast Facts

Pikmin 4
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Strategy
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 21/07/2023
Price: £49.99

A code was provided for review purposes

Ready 4 Pikmin?

Pikmin 4 is the latest and long-awaited addition to the Pikmin series. These games focus on real-time strategy and exploration, rewarding players for navigating landscapes and exploring for treasure. Having enjoyed Pikmin 3 on the WiiU, I was eager to begin this title too. Did it meet my expectations? Find out in this Rapid Review.

Beginning with a bang…

The premise of Pikmin 4 is nothing special. I played as one of the members of a rescue team searching for a shipwrecked astronaut. The premise is simple but effective. Along the way, I encountered other researchers, trinkets, and friendly creatures called Pikmin, all of them encouraging me to explore, sometimes even in unique ways. The story is charming, and I enjoyed how the different characters I rescued added to the game, but it was not a selling point of the title.

In fact, the writing in Pikmin 4 can be a bit sluggish. Characters often told me things I knew, and a lot of the dialogue was forgettable. None of the characters acted like real people. The story did not immerse me in the way I would have wanted it to. Despite not feeling invested in the characters, the overarching plot is cute and more than sufficient for me to understand the surrounding world.

Leading the Charge

Though the world-building did not impress me, the gameplay in Pikmin 4 is gratifying. I commanded an army of Pikmin to collect different objects, take out giant beasts, and find lost explorers. It is not a complex game in nature. However, the game encourages good time management. This game design principle differentiates it from so many other exploration games I have played. Instead of moving each item myself, I command my Pikmin.

This design choice works well for exploration, as it prevents me from having to bring items back to my base myself. Instead, I get to continue exploring and looting as my subordinates do the heavy lifting. I thought this was empowering and very enjoyable.

We will we will rock you!

Similarly, this dynamic works in combat, too. My main character does insignificant damage to enemies, and thus, I must rely on my Pikmin to assist me. I could throw them onto enemies, send them all rushing towards an enemy, or even have them ride a dog like a battle ram and climb aboard that way. These different options were neat. However, as I progressed through the game, it was clear that some options were exclusively viable for some enemies while others were objectively better in other scenarios. Despite lacking differences in functionality, commanding a crowd of soldiers also comes with its own challenges, encouraging strategic thought. Some Pikmin are more valuable than others, as not all Pikmin can easily be replaced. This added layers to my decision-making process, incentivizing me to truly consider the ramifications that would happen if a Pikmin died. The decision-making in the combat engaged me.

Taking the Battle to the Enemies

However, while I enjoyed the combat while weighing which Pikmin to use, as the game progressed, I worried much less. Even if I lost a lot of Pikmin, I could regenerate most of them back. It lessened the consequences of acting rashly and not conserving my Pikmin. Similarly, there is a rewind mechanic, enabling me to undo unfavourable actions and events. Despite these mechanics de-escalating many of the tense sequences, the game was a lot of fun to optimize since each of the enemies have specific weaknesses. This meant that without certain Pikmin, taking on certain enemies would be a lot more challenging, if not impossible. This heightened my loss aversion to a considerable level though losses never dampened my mood too much.

Additionally, many of the fights I engaged in were simple. Granted, I have a decent understanding of how Pikmin works, but the fights were significantly easier than I wanted. To begin with, it was never overly difficult to defeat enemies. However, by the end of the game, the sheer number of Pikmin I carried made nearly every enemy, even bosses, incredibly simple to dismantle. While it sounds like a bad thing, I did not mind it. I enjoyed feeling powerful, devastating the creatures that lay in my path.

A major reason these fights felt easy was because many of them featured simple patterns. Honestly, each one featured some sort of gimmick. Many of them have elemental strengths or obvious weak points in their body. This can make fights seem almost insurmountable until a weakness is unveiled. However, once it is, the fight becomes practically trivial. While I would have preferred a bit more challenge, the game developers do a great job of creating enemies that are unique and that convey their attacks clearly.

I wonder where his weak point is

Two in One?

Though both features in isolation were neat, when combined, they created an incredibly immersive gameplay loop for me to enjoy. Neither was overly complicated, but the meshing of genres kept me immersed and excited to return for more.

While I enjoyed allocating the Pikmin among exploring and combat, a third key component of Pikmin 4 is exploring caves. Each of the worlds features many tunnels with linear, progression-focused levels. In these, I focused on solving some puzzles or taking out enemies. However, they failed to resonate with me the same way navigating the open world did. Since each segment was linear, the repetitive nature of some of the fights became more noticeable, as I could not multitask as much as I typically did. Do not get me wrong, I still enjoyed these segments, but they were a bit tedious compared to the traditional ones.

On the other hand, there were also Dandori challenges. These caves brought me to an arena focused on teaching me how to optimize my utilization of Pikmin. These were fun and a highlight of Pikmin 4. Each arena was curated to stimulate, encouraging me to master my understanding of the game world, the capabilities of my Pikmin, and honestly just play well. I also enjoyed how these challenges had multiple tiers of medals, pushing me to not only complete the area but continue coming back to challenge my high score.

Clash of Concepts

Though both game modes were fun, albeit one more so than the other, I thought the way they were implemented was disappointing. If I wanted to participate in one of these, all the tasks my Pikmin were doing before entering would be cancelled. This clashed with the general goal I had of optimizing my collection speed. If I went into this area while multi-tasking, I would have to recollect some of the objects I had begun collecting, or I would have to sit and wait for my Pikmin to finish before entering. I think the way they were implemented detracted from the pacing of the game, as it encouraged me to finish all the tasks in the overworld before exploring any of these areas. This also likely contributed to the feeling of monotony around the cave areas, as I usually did multiple in one day after exploring the map.

Those Pikmin sure are strong!

Despite some minor grievances, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay. The simplicity of the combat made it easy for me to unwind and explore a magical world after a long day of work. The art style played into this. Each of the trinkets I collected was an object that could be found in the real world. Things ranged from plastic swords to half of a ham, yet each of them was charming, and I enjoyed collecting them. The landscapes and creatures were beautiful, too. Every part of the game was a blast to explore, thanks at least in part to the visuals.

Similarly, the music was beautiful. Though sometimes muffled by the sound of anguished Pikmin, the soundtrack was charming. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. It contributed towards making the world in Pikmin 4 a tranquil oasis just as much as the simple enemies and interesting areas.

I wonder where I need to aim…

Pick me? No Pikmin.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience with Pikmin 4. The combat, while not intensive, is clever and rewards pattern recognition. Similarly, while I was never overly confused about how to collect certain items, the process of collecting them was very engaging. Sure, I had some minor gripes with the pacing, and I may have enjoyed some more demanding fights, but Pikmin 4 oozes style, and I kept coming back, eager and hungry for more.

Rapid Reviews Rating

gold score

You can purchase Pikmin 4 on the Nintendo eShop here

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You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.

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