Developer: Massive Monster
Publisher: Armor Games Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac
I like it when a game doesn’t take itself too seriously and focuses more on being silly and having fun, so The Adventure Pals appealed to me from the get go. With its colourful world, zany gameplay, and reliance on playing with a friend, it seemed to have all the ingredients to offer a great platforming experience. I’ve finally got the chance to play through the game and for the most part it’s delivered, though there are a few small shortcomings as far as the co-operative side of the action is concerned.
The Adventure Pals lays its card on the table immediately with its narrative – I mean, within the first few minutes of playing you’ll see your Dad get kidnapped by the evil villain Mr. B. What’s his plan? To turn people into hot dogs.
So yeah, it doesn’t take itself seriously, and that’s the level of humour you can expect throughout. Fortunately, I’m pretty childish myself and loved it, so it put me in my happy place. Those who prefer a more serious narrative to their platformers (come on!) should probably steer clear though, lest they find themselves facing an army of silly hotdogs…
The Adventure Pals plays like a traditional 2D platformer, with the player running, jumping, battling enemies, finding collectibles, and solving puzzles as they work through a ton of insane levels. The game embraces silliness throughout, both with the enemies you face and the situations you find yourself in. It all feels tight and refined though, with some creative level design on show throughout and solid controls that make it a pleasure to play.
Whilst it’s all simple in design, it offers a nice level of challenge to ensure you’re tested. There’s a balance to the precision you need in your platforming and the skill required in taking down foes, and it comes together nicely to ensure you have fun throughout. You shouldn’t expect to come across anything you haven’t seen in a platformer before with the game certainly playing it safe, but hey, at least it never gets boring.
When adventuring, you’ll take a silly little giraffe companion around with you named Sparkles (aww), who’s pretty vital in getting through levels thanks to his abilities. He’s not the only creature you’ll interact with in The Adventure Pals, but he’s the one constant throughout. Whether it’s thanks to his tongue-whipping hovering or the other upgradable tricks up his sleeve, there’s no doubting that Sparkles is the true hero of the game…
There are plenty of fun little characters to come across in the world that’ll give you a range of zany tasks to complete, some of which see you work towards more than just reaching the end of a level. It’s here that The Adventure Pals embraces its weird side the most, but it helps ensure that everything you do in the game is a lot of fun – no matter how weird it might be.
You level up as you progress through the game, giving your character the likes of extra attacks, stat improvements and additional abilities to make life easier. Each upgrade is a permanent one and there’s a surprising amount of depth on offer with them, so you’ll want to choose carefully to pick the skills that best suit your style of play. My recommendation? Get that grapple attack in – it certainly helps take down your foes a lot easier.
I’d be remiss not to give a shout out to The Adventure Pals’ bosses – I love big boss encounters in a platformer, and there’s certainly a creative bunch to take down here. You’ve got the likes of a giant fish in a robotic suit, a vegetable monstrosity, an evil tree… seriously, there’s a wacky selection of foes to take down that all embrace the game’s silly side. They’re all cleverly designed and fun to take down though, whilst their looming size ensures that they’re one of the most impressive aspects of the game.
You can play through the entirety of The Adventure Pals in local co-op, though it’s not the most refined of multiplayer experiences. It’s not that the game isn’t fun to play with a friend, because believe me, it is. It just feels as though it was tacked on as opposed to being naturally designed for.
The second player has no real say in the actions of the game, with them mainly playing the role of a carbon-copy support character. There’re no real co-operative actions either, with the second player instead simply partaking in the same platforming and combat as player one. They actually make the game easier too, since the enemies don’t change up to cater for two players but instead remain the same.
I don’t want to knock the multiplayer options too much – it really is a lot of fun. It just doesn’t necessarily feel like the game was fine-tuned for co-operative play. Still, being able to laugh at everything and conquer challenges with a friend is probably the best way to play the game, regardless of how easy it might become in the process.
The Adventure Pals is certainly a treat on the eyes, with it embracing an aesthetic style that feels like an homage to the wacky Saturday morning cartoons I watched a kid. It’s fantastically animated, full of colour, and charming throughout – the world is loaded with personality and peculiar character designs, and it’s hard not to keep smiling as you see everything that it has to offer. Kudos to the developers for putting together such a fun little world.