Review: Penko Park (Nintendo Switch)

Penko Park is a creepy but cute adventure game in which you travel through wildlife on a safari. Your travel guide, Penki, will explain to you the rules of this game, which are very simple. Your main goal is to snap pictures of the wildlife you find on your safari, and learn more about them. You can also earn upgrades which allow you to interact with the park in new ways, as well as visit new areas.

When you first start the game, Penki explains to you how the park is abandoned. While there is no major story to the game, he will give more details on that as the game progresses. Penko Park is filled with weird creatures, all different in looks and personality. Some can fly, others can swim, but most just sit or stand around. Though the game has a creepy sort of style to it, the creatures are actually very endearing and cute. None of them jump out at you or try to scare you, and they give off a very comforting vibe, sort of like the animals in real life safari rides, who look unbothered.

Taking pictures of the creatures is easy, though there are some that are more difficult to capture than others. When you take a picture, it turns out on a scale of one to three stars. Obviously, you want to get three stars. To do this you want to make sure that the creature is fully in the picture, the camera is zoomed in enough to see detail, and there is nothing blocking the creature. Again, this is easy to do when a creature is in an open area while sitting still or sleeping, but as you progress in the game it does get a bit more challenging.

All the pictures you take are added to your scrapbook, where you are shown their names. It’s important to get three star pictures because you are given more experience which eventually leads you to gaining medals. Medals are added to your scrapbook and unlock upgrades such as being able to choose new directions and places to turn, as well as a grappling hook to collect plants or other things you come across. You can explore the park multiple times, and while you have a limit of how many pictures you can take per run, you are always given more the next time to go through the safari. One element I liked about the game is that you need to take pictures of the creatures in multiple situations, such as taking a picture while one is awake, but also taking one while it is sleeping.

The visuals of this game are absolutely amazing. It has an illustration-style to it, which makes it feel even more comforting in a way. Though the creatures may seem weird and creepy, the way they are drawn, especially their faces, and the way they move around make them seem totally harmless and cute. The environments in which they live are also beautiful, making the game enjoyable as there’s a lot to look at. Each creature matches its environment very well, which makes it very clear the creators put a lot of thought and effort into the game.

The controls are pretty basic and easy to understand. You are given a quick tutorial every time you learn a new skill, and you can even go back to your scrapbook and learn again if you forget.

Penko Park isn’t very long, maybe just a few hours. But if you want to complete the entire game—such as getting a three star picture for every creature, and collecting all the plants and artifacts (which is another part of the game I liked, as it added more to do and find)—it will take longer.

Penko Park does a really good job at combining creepy with cute, and allowing itself to be really relaxing while also challenging. It’s the type of game that’s easy to pick up and pass the time, as well as one you can get lost in. Its graphics are really cool, and I ran into no problems with glitches or any of the animations looking off. Though there’s a clear and simple goal to the game, there’s also more to do than just that. Also, Penki the travel guide is super sweet, which also adds to the overall theme of the game—that not all that looks scary or weird is bad.

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