For every positive thing Organic Panic does, it almost immediately takes a step back. Whenever I realized how much I enjoyed controlling the main characters, I then was forced to accept that the levels tend to repeat themselves and can be solved in several straightforward, almost lazy ways. While the different stages look good, with dark backgrounds accentuating the bright colors of the enemies and our heroes, the game can literally sound annoying at times. It isn’t a game that’s bad per se, the excitement and satisfaction of solving the various puzzles vegs out to an overly simplistic presentation for a console experience.
In an alternate dimension, fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses all took upon semi-humanoid constructs and lived in peaceful, realistic harmony. Then, all of a sudden and completely out of the blue which I’m not sure is ever explained at the end of the game, the meats and cheeses grew more powerful, and eventually began hunting their less fatty and more healthy brethren for sport. Had the game not been held back by such a simplistic presentation, then one may be able to hold a realistic argument stating the narrative is a metaphor for our temptations to shun a vegetarian lifestyle, but instead we are treated to several stop motion comic book panels that introduce our heroes and their various, disjointed goals. An absence of the narrative wouldn’t feel so criminal in a game such as Organic Panic, but the game’s levels exist by the ongoing narrative.
In terms of the heroes, there’s the fiery Carrot, who can summon flames with the magic he gains. Kiwi shoot water, acting as a fruity firehose as he floods the area, drowning enemies and forcing everyone to swim. Coconut’s mystic powers can levitate objects to complete puzzles, and Cherry can dig through the environment. Such unique character powers make the gameplay fun, as you’ll feel appropriately powered as you’re tearing through enemies, and happily overpowered when running through power-ups. This is a vital aspect of the game, as the game consists of over 200 levels and it helps make the levels more fun to play since it feels like so many levels repeat themselves.
The object of each level is to get from point A to point B, using physics based platforming mechanics called D.A.F.T., Destructible and Fluid Technology, as you can basically interact with everything present in the environment. If it sounds like a cool design, that’s because it is, as any texture can be drilled through, certain structures can be lit on fire, and so on and so forth. Yet since the whole idea is to just get to the portal, to complete the level by meeting the bare minimum requirements, you can complete each level by simply barreling through the environments again….and again….and again…..and again…. Some, especially the later, very inventive and rewarding lava and portal focused levels, force you to pick up certain powerups in a certain order so you can reach your goal. This isn’t present nearly as often as it is toward the endgame, and the result is a large majority of puzzles feeling very similar in design.
If you’re not too crazy about the single player mode, then there also isn’t much incentive to go back and complete the crystals. Some are conveniently very easy to earn, literally placed right in front of the exit. You’ll also get to the main boss and realize that these crystals are just as important as actually completing the main levels, but this isn’t hinted at nor suggested throughout the various stages. It’s quite annoying, and while it does force you to go back and play through the different stages to snag the remaining pesky purple crystals, this can feel more like homework from a cranky history teacher than a cool assignment from your hip, young science teacher.
While it makes sense that Organic Panic is on consoles, this most likely isn’t a game for the large majority of PS4 owners. Better suited for fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons who want to experience their first physics based platformer, than seasoned vets looking from a break in the onslaught of games released throughout the year.
+ Unique character powers
+ Cute art style
+ Lots of content
– Disjointed and limited narrative premise
– Repetitive sound design
– Levels repeat themselves
The amount of content and unique character design shows that the game indeed respects the players, but mundane level designs damper the experience.
Liam Crossey is the Executive Editor of Features for The Game Bolt. Follow him on Twitter for too many retweets.