Developer: Dakko Dakko
Publisher: Dakko Dakko
Release Date: Out Now
Platform(s): PlayStation VR
PlayStation VR’s catalogue is continuously growing with innovative new titles, and Pop-Up Pilgrims from the team at Dakko Dakko is the latest to add to the list. Bringing with it a unique aesthetic and a charming little world, Pop-Up Pilgrims offers a puzzling experience that’ll remind some old-school gamers of the classic game Lemmings. It’s very quirky and fun to play, but does it offer enough to be an essential PlayStation VR purchase though?
One of the first things you’ll notice about Pop-Up Pilgrims is its vibrant 2D visuals – it’s not the typical set-up for a virtual reality game, right? Much like titles like Bloody Zombies before it though, it ends up having this incredibly stylish ‘flat’ feel to it. You might be in a 2D world, but boy does it look good. Without actually seeing the game in virtual reality, it’s hard to appreciate how effective Pop-Up Pilgrims’ aesthetic is. Everything is simple in design, but the way the world essentially wraps itself around the player is both innovative and very neat.
In Pop-Up Pilgrims, you’ll control the Cloud God as he looks to guide a group of villagers (his pilgrims) through a variety of different levels set across six different landscapes. Your objective essentially boils down to one thing: leading the autonomously moving pilgrims to safety by switching between the different layers of a level and guiding them along. As mentioned, it plays a lot like the classic game Lemmings, though thankfully the pilgrims don’t have severe suicidal tendencies…
The main command you’ll give to your pilgrims is to jump, with each one easily able to leap over obstacles or between platforms. You’re only able to control one pilgrim at a time though, so you’ve got to make sure all of your pilgrims are in a safe position before take one off onto a little escapade to explore a level. It’s a bit of a balancing act really, but one that works well in-game and never feels too stressful.
Throughout each level there’ll be a bunch of collectibles to find, whilst saving a specific amount of pilgrims will also award you with a bonus. You get graded at the end of each level and you’ll need to save a lot of pilgrims and get all of the collectibles if you want to get those gold rankings. Interestingly, the amount of pilgrims you have carries over between levels, so if you let too many die you often won’t find yourself with enough to get the gold ranking on the next level – it means you’ll have to replay levels again (or simply purchase new pilgrims) if you’re aiming for a perfect run.
There are around sixty levels to tackle in total across the six worlds, with each new world putting new obstacles in your way. Whilst some of the earlier levels are simpler in design, it doesn’t take long before they’re on a grander scale and you’ll find yourself zipping between a ton of different platforms. There are some bosses fights to take on too, which add a neat little twist to the puzzling gameplay.
Whilst there’s some variety to be found though, the gameplay itself started to wane on me a bit. It’s the kind of game that would be better suited as a quick ‘pick up and play’ experience, which isn’t always a convenient option when playing in PlayStation VR. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that Pop-Up Pilgrims isn’t enjoyable because it’s a neat game with some cool little mechanics – it can just grow old fast.
It’s also worth noting that the game isn’t really all that difficult, with it actually becoming a little bit predictable in design the further you progress. It likes to throw new tricks your way with each world, but after you’ve seen them once, you begin to anticipate them and find easy ways to overcome them. I beat the game in around about five hours, which is pretty meaty for a game like this but a little lacking when you consider that I got through it with such ease.
At least it can be a bit tougher to get all of the gold rankings in each level, though once you’ve cleared a level once you’ll know exactly what you need to do – after that, playing them again to perfect them isn’t difficult.
The controls for Pop-Up Pilgrims are pretty simple in design with them using both head movements and the Dual-Shock controller, though they will take some getting used to. You can shift control of each pilgrim and, with a simple button press, guide them to jump across different trajectories. Actually keeping track of the pilgrim you’re controlling or just switching between them could be a bit finicky though, with the control system feeling a little clumsy when you’ve got too many pilgrims together and are trying to react quickly. It is something you get used to with time, but it will take a little bit of practice.