Who hasn’t wished they could run away and join the circus? In Penarium you get to do just that. Just be careful with what you wish for… because Penarium isn’t your normal circus. ID@Xbox has been pumping out amazing games since it’s inception and Penarium is no different. A mix of platformer and puzzle, this game will challenge you to the very end. At least I think it does. I’ll admit now that parts of this game are so hard I am not sure WHEN I’ll make it to the end.
Penarium stars you as a not-so-average hero named Willy who, as mentioned above, wants to run away and join the circus. Which he does. Unfortunately for him he finds out that this circus is much more than it appears as a shadowy ring master informs Willy that in this circus, people DIE.
Penarium will test your skills and patience. It’s a game of survival as you jump across multiple platforms trying to avoid traps all while trying to achieve a goal set forth by the ringmaster. Breaking barrels, popping balloons, hitting buttons in a sequence similar to the old game SIMON are just some of the tests you will be put through. Imagine trying to play a video game while someone is firing a nail gun at you. Imagine trying to navigate a grocery store while pieces of the floor open up and there’s lava underneath… and also someone is shooting a nail gun at you. There’s no actual nail gun being shot at you in Penarium but you will be shot at… A LOT. At times it can feel like it is too much, but the overcoming the barrage of death traps to finish a challenge is amazing. You will feel so rewarded getting past some of these levels.
The controls in Penarium are spot on. If you die, you CANNOT blame the lag, or controls, or anything else but yourself. If you die in Penarium, it’s because YOU messed up. I died a lot. I even tried to say the game’s controls weren’t that good but that was a total lie. These controls are super crisp and I know the moment I mistake a jump I’m done for.
The game adopts that retro/sprite style of graphics that we’re seeing a lot of in the recent release of indie games lately. While personally I am growing tired of seeing “retro-style” games I feel it fits well with Penarium. The game isn’t about the graphics. It’s about the gameplay. The story is well told in small cut scenes between arenas and the retro graphics add more to the story than take away from it.
You’ll listen to the music in Penarium and feel like someone has watched one too many Tim Burton movies. At times I could swear that this game was heavily influenced by scenes from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. That’s not a bad thing. The creepy, dark circus music fits perfectly and adds a small sense of whimsy to this otherwise brutal game. Penarium is a great game that will leave you wanting more. The gameplay is wonderful, the music is whimsical, and the story (so far) is very entertaining. If you’re looking for a great challenge presented in a unique way, then run off and join the Penarium circus.