Every now and then, I play a game that I find so engaging, so enchanting, and so extremely extravagant that it causes me to start out my review for it with a very peculiar form of alliterative adjectives. As you may have figured out by now, Penumbear from Taco Graveyard and BulkyPix happens to be one of those games.
Penumbear is a platformer where you take control of a small black bear as he runs through a peculiar labyrinth of levels. While there are many actual platforms, the hook of the game is that our titular character is capable of walking on the penumbras that separate light and darkness. By using fireflies, players can activate certain lanterns to create shadows, giving access to new platforms to walk across, or to remove them as obstacles. Certain platforms will only be accessible in light, and some only in darkness. Often hazards such as spiked blocks will be carefully hidden so it’s important to be constantly aware of your surroundings.
The controls themselves are simple enough. Left and right to move along the 2D realm and a jump button. I would like to make a special mention to point out that the controls for this game flow incredibly well, and since many of the platforms to traverse in this game are very small and require precision landing, this is definitely something worth noting.
Many of the levels require picking up extra fireflies that act as keys to open the exit to the next stage, and these also act as checkpoints, which is appreciated in longer levels as the game features a lot of leap of faith gameplay, especially if players wish to collect all of the bonus bears hidden in each stage. Backtracking is also very important as adjusting the lights will cause many different paths to open. No doubt each level will require a fair share of exploration to find everything.
The bear himself is a quirky little character who squeaks on jumps, proclaims with joy upon finding one of his bears, and even runs out of breath after a lengthy run (don’t worry, it’s not a hindrance). The world itself is vast and gives the impression of a magical ghostlike environment, and the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack really enhances the atmosphere of not only the game, but the player’s experience.
There are currently over one hundred levels in Penumbear, a large variety of collectables that players will need a lot of time and cunning to seek out, and topping that off with gameplay that flows so smooth and elegantly that it’s hard not to recommend Penumbear to any fan of platformers or puzzle games. This is truly a beautiful experience that is not to be missed.
+Gorgeous world and layouts
+Incredibly smooth controls
+Amazing sense of exploration and challenge
-Checkpoints will save your keys, but not the bonus bears you have collected. Hopefully this will be changed in a future update
Penumbear is a platformer fans dream, and the game itself feels like one you never want to wake up from. Penumbear was made by talented folks who know their craft. Do not let yourself miss out on this title.