The Adventure Pals Review
The Adventure Pals is a platformer in which the main character, Wilton, must save his father from the villainous Mr. B and stop his plan for world domination that involves turning all the old people of the world into hot dogs. The story for The Adventure Pals is absurd, but that’s the point. it’s a charismatic experience which pokes fun at traditional platformer tropes commonly used in stories. In Wilton’s effort to stop Mr. B, he must conquer 5 unique worlds with his best pals Sprinkles the Giraffe and Mr. Rock the Rock.
Graphics: The first thing that players will experience is the clean and crisp animation that the game offers. The art style is inspired by cartoons such as Adventure Time. Similarities can be seen with art style and animation quality as well as the humor experienced in the game. As a platformer, the art style is unique as it differs from the usual pixel art or 3d environments commonly exhibited by games within the genre. The game also has dynamic environments, often consisting of many layers of art in the foreground or background which heighten the gameplay. For example, in the forest levels there are trees in the foreground and background and instead of being static objects, they sway in the wind and leaves blow throughout the stage. There is also a backdrop which further sets the scene of the environment the player is in. Again, using the forest as an example, the backdrop shows numerous trees far in the distance which informs the player of how big the area is. The sun is also in the backdrop and rays of sunshine shine over the level where they constantly shimmer in and out. Everything has been immaculately designed with attention to the finer details that bring the world of The Adventure Pals to life.
Collectibles/Exploration: Many platformers have a simple “go from point A to Point B” level design and philosophy. The Adventure Pals opts for a different approach; large expansive levels with numerous paths. Many of these paths do lead to additional enemies or dead-ends, but they offer the player chances at obtaining additional gold and experiences as well as treasure chests to obtain much needed items such as potions or bombs. Whilst the normal path could be the quick path to get to the end of the level, it’s normally worth it to explore in order to get additional items, which are obtained at a much cheaper price than individually buying them at the shop. Additionally, many of these alternative paths could also harbor Cupcakes or Sticker packs. These special collectibles allow you to convert the cupcakes into additional costumes for your characters and the sticker books allow you to get stickers of in-game characters, as well as stickers of many characters from other indie games. The Adventure Pals promotes and encourages exploration; what might seem like the “long path” can offer the player many positives than going through the level normally.
Leveling Up/Skills: The Adventure Pals features a unique mechanic in which you will receive experience from slain enemies. This allows the player to gain a skill upon leveling up. When the player levels up they can select one of 3 presented skills to give them a permanent passive upgrade. The player’s max health is also increased slightly. In conjunction with the prior upside, the ability to explore levels and fight and beat enemies allows the player to gain more experience, resulting in more levels and more skills being unlocked. This makes the latter sections of the game easier to traverse and complete. The ability to select 1 perk out of 3 perks presented provides a higher degree of interactivity and freedom as you can mold the playable character into a class and playstyle they are comfortable with. An example is that a defensive player could select the perk which allows them to preform counter attacks when dodging enemy attacks, whereas an offensive player could opt to get life-steal to regain HP whenever they defeat enemies. The leveling system adds an additional layer of complexity and freedom of choice to an already action-packed game.
Repetitive Music: The Adventure Pals has a very great sound track but, unfortunately, the game suffers from a lack of diversity in the music department. Every world has 5 main levels and each of these levels are further broken down into 5 sub-levels, totaling 25 levels per world. If a player was to fully explore 1 main level, going out of their way to obtain all secrets such as Cupcakes and Sticker pack, it will take approximately 10 minutes per Main level (5 Sub-levels). When adding all the time played across all levels of a world, the player will normally spend around an hour per world. The main problem is that the world severely limits the music track and as a result the player will experience the same exact sound track looping for an hour straight before they can listen to any additional samples of music when they progress to the next world. The lack of diversity in the sound track can make what is an exceptional musical experience into an incredibly mediocre one due to the constant repetition.
Level Cap/Redundant Perks: As already discussed, The Adventure Pals has a leveling system. The main problem is that the level cap is level 21 and this cap is easily reached by actively exploring to collect everything in the level. As a result, a player can achieve the max level whilst only experiencing approximately 60% of the story content. Thus, any and all future skirmishes with enemies are redundant because defeating non-compulsory enemies yield no benefits as you no longer gain experience. One additional problem with the leveling system is the perks which can be obtained upon leveling up act as a “Joke”. These perks provide no additional benefit in selecting them and therefore they simply clog up 1 of the 3 perks which are shown to the player upon leveling up, restricting the amount useful perks the players can pick from. For example, the player may be presented with a trumpet which makes “Fart” noises. These “Joke” perks do not enhance the characters stats, capabilities and have no practical application other than being forced humor. These “Joke” perks become more apparent as you reach the final levels as all of the useful skills have been acquired by that point and therefore when the player levels up they are then given the option of selecting between 2 or 3 “Joke” perks which give the player no advantage, becoming a useless inclusion.
Quests: The Adventure Pals also features a unique Quest system. Similar to role-playing games, the player can speak to NPCs and acquire quests to complete. The main problem with the quest system in The Adventure Pals is that it seems like padding. The reason for this is that the Quests are almost always mandatory and, in order to unlock new story related levels, the player must speak to these NPCs to obtain the quest. The player then has the illusion of freedom to complete the quest when in reality, the quest objective is normally always compulsory to complete, as well as any important items being place right before the ending ruby to collect, which makes it unmissable. These additional quests do not promote exploration as the object of interest are always directly placed in front of the player. The game presents quests as an optional side objective but the fact that you need them to progress to the next story level indicates that they are mandatory. Since this is the case, why bother making quests? It is possible that quests act as padding. The quests also do not yield any great rewards such as additional gold for items, stat upgrades or experience. Very rarely will the player obtain anything useful, normally in the form of a sticker pack. Overall the Quest system is a disappointment as there was many opportunities to improve gameplay and offer sizable rewards for players that actively went out to complete these quests instead of offering nothing for their completion.
The Adventure Pals is a solid platformer which has many of the basics covered. The diversity of the features such as an experience system, rewards and gold/items and the tight platforming controls wrap the game up well. Unfortunately, whilst the game plays very well, the game has many missed opportunities such as the leveling cap, the redundant nature of quests and the constant repetitive music per world. If these were corrected and/or improved, the game would be much better in terms of player enjoyability.
The Adventure Pals was developed by Massive Monster and published by Armor Games. It was released for Xbox One [reviewed], PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on April 3rd, 2018. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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