Developer: Green Dinosaur Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Genre(s): Arcade, Platformer
Platform: PS4 (also available on Nintendo Switch and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 05/03/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Pinkman+ is a precision platformer focused on speed and tight controls. As a pink man, travel through one hundred handcrafted levels. Experience the minimal art style this game provides in various colour palettes while progressing through these challenging trials. Pinkman+ features swift movement, sound level design, and an interesting art style.
Though Pinkman+ provides many things, there is no traditional story. Despite the publishers mentioning escaping “The Mind”, this concept is not discussed in the game, and there is no plotline. The developers omitted the story and focused solely on the gameplay. If the gameplay is sufficient, excluding plot development does not hinder the game.
Even without a central story, the developers of Pinkman+ ensure the audience is given ample instruction and guidance. Whenever a new mechanic or obstacle is introduced, a text box directs the player, describing the function of the new asset implemented. These brief descriptions inform players preemptively, allowing new players to immediately know what to expect in every level. The tutorials Pinkman+ offers make sure that the game is accessible to all players and guarantee that players are not required to dedicate their time learning what the game assets are.
The Plan is Simple
To compensate for the lack of a story, the developers devoted most of their efforts to the gameplay. The character, a nimble pink man, must navigate his way through spikes, activate buttons, and enter doors. His options are simple. He can jump, both off walls and the ground as well as utilize his jetpack. The player is given full control over the player, and he runs at an excellent speed. The controls are responsive and fluid. Moreover, the player can control their momentum with their jetpack. Using the jetpack cancels all vertical momentum. While this can be challenging to adapt to, the momentum cancel enables tight and precise movement. This jetpack helps unskilled players and skilled players complete levels faster. The simplicity of the character’s arsenal combined with the tight controls ensures the player character controls well.
Not only is the player developed well, but traps and obstacles are precise and to the point. There is a large variety of traps ranging from swinging hammers to machine guns. Each trap is wildly different from the last. The game truly shines when combining these assets together. For example, in one level, the player must block a projectile with a hammer. The player learns to leverage obstacles to their advantage. This design decision forces the player to consider how to tackle a level prior to attempting it. The trap design in Pinkman+ is excellent and will leave a lasting impact on the player.
Moreover, the level design is excellent as well. Each level is handcrafted, and this shines through. None of the levels feel the same, and each level gets progressively more complex than the last. Like mentioned before, one of the best design decisions was to keep recycling traps. Although new obstacles were being introduced throughout the game, the developers continued to refresh the player and combine the new assets with previously implemented ones. This makes sure that levels do not feel focused on one mechanic and have genuine depth to them. The developers integrated their obstacles throughout the game, placing new mechanics and revisiting old concepts at the same time.
The Pink Tax
To contrast the perfection required to complete each level, the developers of Pinkman+ included checkpoints. Generally, including checkpoints is an excellent decision, as players will feel frustrated when they need to backtrack. Moreover, they make the game more accessible, as players of lower skill levels will be able to play the game. However, Pinkman+ is a precision platformer. This means the game is supposed to be challenging. Unfortunately, the frequent checkpoints make the game simple, and the game rarely posed a challenge. It is not beneficial to remove the checkpoints entirely, as that would alienate the unskilled players. Regardless, including a difficulty that removed checkpoints would have both given skilled players a challenge, and given players a reason to revisit the levels.
Despite minor grievance with difficulty, Pinkman+ boasts excellent game design. It features hand-crafted levels, and a functional, manoeuvrable main character. The gameplay is the best aspect of the game and it truly shines.
The sound design hints at the cyberpunk setting mentioned in the product description on the Playstation store page. Each of the twenty tracks is electronic, where some border lo-fi. The tracks were surprisingly enjoyable. While not memorable, they served their purpose well and heightened the gameplay experience. The minimalist visual style was also quite appealing. The game randomly toggles between various colour palettes, providing variety and another reason to start the level once more. As silly as it may sound, the colour palettes were one of the more interesting elements and noticing which colour scheme appears will certainly calm the player after death. Though not important, some colour schemes are significantly better than others, and the game does not allow them to be toggled with, so at times the player may be frustrated with a suboptimal colour scheme. All in all, the sound design and visuals enhance the gameplay experience substantially.
Overall, Pinkman+ was a well-designed game. Though it is a bit short, at £3.99, this is an excellent experience. Plus, it is an easy platinum trophy. The cohesive and concise controls coupled with ambient music and the minimalist art style all made for a splendid package. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Pinkman+.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can purchase Pinkman+ from the PlayStation store here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.