The Adventure Pals Review – A Couple Hours of Fun
The Adventure PalsApril 3rd, 2018
The Adventure Pals feels like a loving homage to Adventure Time and the work of Behemoth. And while its fun to play and look at, the surrealist comedy of it all feels a little forced and falls a little flat.
The overtly wacky tone might feel a bit different from other platformers if you’ve never played a game from Behemoth before. Its unpredictable, but lacks the deft hand working behind the scenes to fit everything together. Characters come and go in The Adventure Pals and none of them feel remoted related or tied to the world. They exist to make an appearance, before fading into the background of a world that can only seem whimsical in its first moment.
Luckily, the gameplay behind the façade is delightful. Levels are broken up into bite-sized chunks with that feel like a smart blend between Spelunky and Super Meat Boy. You spend your time exploring a collection of floating islands and fighting monsters. Each level is packed with only the kookiest imagery, but perhaps its the sheer volume but after a while, it is almost charming.
The painfully meta storyline doesn’t so much poke fun at story tropes as it does just point them out. The evil villain has a reason for his heinous plan, we’re assured, but Adventure Pals doesn’t bother to tell us. Bandits are cat people because of course they are, and hotdog warriors are actually old people. I would say that this game is designed for players who have used a particular substance, but honestly, I feel the game would be a bit too much on the nose even for them.
It's hard to balance my feelings for The Adventure Pals. It's at times quite funny, with some almost intensely imaginative design. But that same design and that same humor can feel overdone and completely unconnected to the player and the rest of the game. I guess it depends what mood you enter the game with. All in all, I personally think the comedy missed the mark a little, but its inclusion wasn’t excruciatingly offensive.
Removing the artwork from the overall theme and Adventure Pals is an excellent homage to Adventure Time. The animation and feel of the movement to smooth and flawless with the perfectly colored cartoon finish. It looks like an expression of pure imagination and makes it almost impossible to look away.
The sound design isn’t quite as strong but has a nice chirping quality to it. It fits well with the rest of the game but clearly wasn’t the focus. Likewise, as fun as the game is to play, the mechanics are all quite simple. Clearly Adventure Pals is meant for children, but battles are done by smashing buttons and exploring is done with little more than a few variations of jumping. It's a game that creates a nice safe feeling to it that indulges in simplicity. Unfortunately, that means that the difficulty curve is more or less a flat line with the occasional new enemy thrown in to mix things up.
One of the exciting moments in the game is leveling up. Instead of stat buffs, the game offers a selection of ability cards that give the impression of creating a unique character. They also add a little flavor to the game, even if the abilities aren’t nearly as creative or wacky as the rest of the game. Like the levels, these are clearly crafted behind the scenes and only appear to be random, but it feels exciting seeing the cards flash up and letting you decide.
The Adventure Pals is a hard game to grasp. Straddling the line between funny and annoying, adult and childish, the game never gives you a moment to decide how you feel about it. It's beautiful to look at, and easy to play. It can draw you in with its visuals and then keep you hooked with its raw animation, but there’s something just ever so slightly off about Adventure Pals. Like a corporation attempting to be trending or cool, the game feels just a little bit off. A little bit fake. If you happen to be an Adventure Time super fan that has been dying for a good video game that matches the license, this is the closest you’ll get for a while. If you can turn off your brain and enjoy the cartoon graphics and simple gameplay, this is a couple of well-spent hours.
But if you have a brain that can’t help but dissect the world in front of you, this game might trouble you. The Adventure Pals is nearly a success but ultimately lacks the organic comedy it needed to truly feel magical.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (code provided by the publisher). You can purchase a PC code from Humble Bundle.
If you happen to be an Adventure Time super fan that has been dying for a good video game that matches the license, this is the closest you’ll get for a while. If you can turn off your brain and enjoy the cartoon graphics and simple gameplay, this is a couple of well-spent hours. But if you have a brain that can’t help but dissect the world in front of you, this game might trouble you. The Adventure Pals is nearly a success but ultimately lacks the organic comedy it needed to truly feel magical.
- Great to look at
- Easy to play
- Some seriously creative enemies
- Feels a little insincere
- Bit to easy
- Bit to simple