Pawarumi is a futuristic shoot’em up set in a pre-Colombian universe, developed by French studio Manufacture 43, the game has impressed audiences and critics alike with it’s original release on PC and Linux back in 2018, but does Pawarumi make the leap to consoles or does it’s fast paced gameplay fail to deliver?
As touched on above, Pawarumi takes place in an futuristic pre-Colombian universe, meaning that the look and story elements of the game is inspired by Aztec and other similar American civilizations around the same time and earlier, before the colonization of the Americas. In Pawarumi, you play as Axo, the empire’s best pilot, who is seeking revenge for the crimes perpetrated against her people. Axo, with her legendary ship Chukaru, fight against the armies of the Council. The game has three slightly different stories (due to the order of the bosses) and different endings depending on if you’re playing on easy, normal or hard difficulties, with the last level in hard mode finally being your revenge.
I don’t think this story was told well in the game. The little bits of dialogue offered by the game doesn’t fill you in much to the story of the world, but I don’t think Pawarumi is a game that is relying on story and prefers to get to the gameplay quickly.
When I first read about Pawarumi’s gameplay, I thought it sounded crazy. The game describes itself as a ‘rock, paper. scissors’ shooter which makes no sense until you play the tutorial, then it feels so natural and you begin to wonder why no other game (as far as I’m aware) has done anything like this.
In Pawarumi, the enemies come in three different colors, red, green, and blue, with your attacks also being colored in the same pattern. Attacking enemies with the same color that they are increases your shield/health. Attacking the enemy with their ‘crush’ color defeats them quickly (e.g. Blue crushes green, green crushes red, red crushes blue) and attacking with the other color combination ‘drains’ the enemy for your super attack. (E.g. Red attack against green).
Pawarumi is challenging. It’s a fast paced that makes you earn beating a level, even on easy and normal difficulties. The difficulty curve means that it’s a good idea to beat the game on easy first before moving on to normal. The game is very reminiscent of the shooters of old, and would not be at all out of place in an arcade.
The game features local and online leaderboards and as mentioned above, is already available on PC. One feature that differentiates the Nintendo Switch edition is that you can have the ship change color depending on what joycon you’re using. I preferred playing the game in handheld mode and it’s a great game to play on the go, especially when playing the levels individually in training mode to improve my performance when I get time to try a full play through.
Pawarumi is aiming for a Aztec-like, retro 80’s, pre-Colombian look. The game delivers on this look beautifully and looks very sharp. The colors are clearly defined on the ships which is helpful to color deficient players, the levels have lots of variation and the background of levels are interesting without being distracting, especially the snow level having very crisp looking snow and the lava cave level giving everything a warm glow.
The story artwork in the game is very visually interesting but I would of liked to of seen more, especially of the main character, Axo, who only has one artwork shown for her, if the game had more artwork for the character, perhaps showing the characters journey and growth as shes getting revenge, then the story may have stuck out more and become more visually interesting.
Pawarumi is musically uninteresting, the music fits in well and blends into the other sounds of the game, and only makes itself noticeable when required. The other sounds of the ships blend together and no sound feels as if it’s overstaying its welcome. It’s all very standard for what you would expect from a shoot’em up.
Pawarumi has entertained audiences on PC for over a year now, and it will gain a whole new audience on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One with a game that I couldn’t imagine playing without a joystick. When reviewing this on the Switch, the game feels as if it was made exclusively for the switch since all the controls feel so perfected. The story is interesting enough without falling into cliche and the graphics amaze. This is a must buy for anyone wanting a shoot’em up experience on console.
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