PC, Mac (now), Xbox One, PS4, Switch (Dec)
I’m not just here to tell you that Paw Paw Paw is a fine game. It’s that category of game that is all too often not written about, simply because it does a very good job of delivering a fun idea we’ve seen plenty of times before. That’s a good enough reason to merit coverage right there. But honestly, what’s mostly driving me to bring this to your attention is the trousers-based plot.
Obviously as a Brit it’s endlessly amusing that Americans call trousers “pants”, such that we can frequently enjoy misunderstanding and assuming they actually meant underwear. But let’s put that aside, because it’s more than just that. This is a game about a maverick group of woodland animals who have rebelled against a corrupt(ed) king, and refused to be forced to wear trousers. Forming their own enclave outside of the city, they’re now starting to fight back, to reclaim what’s theirs, what’s right: to right to be trouserless.
Come on. I defy you to want more from your gaming plots. Imagine, just imagine, a world in which this was the central conceit behind the latest Call Of Duty campaign. That is a universe in which we would all be better.
The game? Oh yes. It’s a side-scrolling beat-em-up, with sword-n-shield based combat. But not in some grimy street: instead it’s in the woods, and on mountains, and generally in the fresh outdoors. It’s also packed with unlockables, motivating repeated attempts to clear trickier levels, as you discover better weapons, shields, power-ups, rideable creatures, and other characters to play.
This is no rogue-lite. If you die, you just start that level over, or go back to base and stock up on more items, your XP maintained. Remember when games did that? Then you’re old. It’s quite the treat to experience it again.
Also, weapons unlocked by one character can be used by another, so if you fancy a new run using the dual-knife-wielding botanist mole, or perhaps an rabbit ranger, there’s no need to start from scratch. Although they will all start from level 1, but each has their own unique skill tree to gradually chose from.
The combat isn’t always great. Because you’re all 2D characters walking about a world with X, Y and Z coordinates, it’s a little clumsy trying to align with equally flat enemies. Plus getting the first few combos unlocked is a lengthy process – it could really have done with a couple of them available from the start. Yet there’s enough going on, with button mashing absolutely an option when things get frantic, and lots of bonus items to throw into a fray.
Also, the different weapon types of different characters really do mix things up. It’s such a tactically different game when playing with an arrow rather than a sword, rather than just the former spamming so frequently as to act as the latter.
Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that this super-cute game, filled with lovely little animals, is also super-violent. So many furry heads are chopped off.
The more I’ve played this, the more I’ve liked it. I began thinking it was decent enough, but the more I’ve put into it, the more I’ve gotten out, and it keeps revealing more depth.
I’ve had a fine old time with this. I’ve carried on playing for far longer than I’d planned, and am about to carry on playing once I’ve finished writing this. Which is a useful reminder that it’s important not to dismiss games because they do what other games have done a lot, especially when they do it this nicely. Also, to remember that storylines based around the enforced wearing of trousers are always welcome.