The Adventure pals is “one of those games”; a fun, relaxing action-platformer, which does not attempt to challenge the player with challenging gameplay. It is a goofy, light-hearted game, which you spent a few hours with (around 9 to be precise) and then you move on; you won’t break your controller, you won’t get stuck on any puzzles, you won’t retry the same jump, you won’t die on the same boss over and over again. That’s not to say that there is no merit to playing this game, obviously, but it is a very specific game, and it’s very good at what it does.
The feature that caught my attention was the art style; it has this ‘modern Cartoon Network’ aesthetic to it. It has bright-eyed and cute characters, a very child-like and goofy sense of humor and tendencies to break the fourth wall, referring to other games and pop culture in a self-aware way; I didn’t mind this and it got a few good laughs out of me, but I know people are more wary of games that do this.
The story is not great, and I don’t think it ever tried to be, with the gist of it being: your grandpa has been turned into a hot-dog, and you have to go save him along with your giraffe buddy. As you can understand, it’s an excuse to be weird and goofy, rather than an actual story, but it works well enough, because by following it and the equally weird side-quests, you travel to new weird worlds and fight new enemies, in new levels. Besides the necessary visual variety, new worlds and levels also introduce new puzzle mechanics, new platforming challenges and provide opportunity for the player character to level up and choose new abilities; the developers paced these very well and up until the end, new stuff was constantly introduced, however, I would have liked a bit more effort in the upgrades, as most of them didn’t feel meaningful or exciting to have.
Furthermore, the simplistic nature of the game, means that the combat is a bit more button-mashing than I would have liked and it also means that the game can throw multiple enemies at you, which leads to the screen becoming way too chaotic and often led me to lose track of where my character was. This complaint is probably stronger for co-op sessions, but I didn’t try that and can’t speak about it. Another important aspect that The Adventure pals gets mostly right, is the level design; there is enough variety to the levels that they don’t feel a rehash of previous ones, and enough of them have creative structures that you can understand the effort put behind designing them. There were some levels I didn’t particularly enjoy, due to some of them cutting of the way back and did not allow for exploration, but there were more good ones than annoying.
Speaking of exploration, one of the things that I really liked about this game, is that it does not overload on its concepts; for example, there is only one currency, one weapon, two pals (which you get as part of the story) and two types of collectibles. In the levels, this translates to a peaceful and relaxing time; you defeat a few enemies and platform your way across the map, exploring for the two collectibles along the way. Finding them was never difficult, but it did require some backtracking and an inquisitive look at the levels to figure out where the collectibles are, and how to get them. Part of that is to try and get to parts of the level you can’t actually see yet, and that’s where the couple of frustrating decisions made, actually annoyed me and hurt my experience; firstly, you can’t pan the camera around. It makes sense for the game to not allow that, but I’ve willingly fell to my death a few times, because I wanted to see if there were any collectibles hidden at the edge; which is where complaint number two comes in. Some background looks like it is traversable when it is not, and there are dead-ends in the game that, due to the background, don’t look like they should end there. This did happen a lot in the beginning, and then I got used to it, but I sometimes did, instinctively jump to my death a few times in the latter parts as well.
An aspect I didn’t expect to like so much was the music; especially the track for the levels of the first world. Admittedly, the other tracks were not as good as that one, but I certainly enjoyed it more than what I initially expected. An aspect that I’m not sure how I feel about it, is the price; at 14.99 euros, it’s not expensive and having spent 9 hours with it, I wouldn’t say that there isn’t enough content to justify it; however I’m not sure I would recommend it for 14.99. It’s a good game, that offers a nice experience, but for that price I would expect a bit more; not in duration, but in quality. Overall, The Adventure pals is a good game, and it can provide a solid experience for those who are looking for a good time-waster game; not really challenging, with a small checklist of things to do, which you do and move on. I don’t think people looking for that will be disappointed, even at 14.99 and especially if they already played some other similar games like Dust: An Elysian Tail, but I would be more comfortable recommending it if it was a bit cheaper.