When I was a kid and I had myself a games console (PS One, N64, etc.) I remember wanting – nay – demanding to be allowed to play adult-orientated games. I couldn’t reasonably walk into a video game store and pick a rated-18 game up off the shelf and walk out grinning. For one, I was like, what, 8-years old, and secondly, my pocket money was far from what I earn these days.
Now that I’m an adult who has a higher than average salary, all the consoles I could wish for (but no time to play #adultproblems), I long for the games that are aimed at the younger crowd. Cooking Mama? Got it. Pokemon? Caught ’em all. Super Mario everything? I’ve saved that daft cow more times than I’ve watch Die Hard, and I love Die Hard.
It’s a shame, then, that such experiences are getting harder and harder to find on the consoles that I play the most: PlayStation 4, PS Vita and (sorry!) Xbox One. It’s all ultra-realistic violence and nitty-gritty shooters that dominate the market, not to mention the hundreds of open-world games that I’ve started, left, and never picked up again. One day I’ll actually get around to finishing Skyrim. At the very least I’ll leave it as a request in my will for my future children to inherit. One of my bloodline will finish it, and that’s good enough for me.
It was a pleasure, then, when Organic Panic showed up unexpectedly. I didn’t think much of it at first, but over the last couple of days I’ve really gotten into it. Scarily so. I downloaded Hitman and Organic Panic on the same day and I’ve still yet to see what all the hoo-lah about Agent 47’s next-gen venture is all about.
Organic Panic is a puzzler/platformer that is deceptively simple with its cutesy presentation and silly little food-based characters. You play as the good guys, the fruit and veg, in a quest to, er, actually, there are no quests. In fact, the story is only told via comic sections which are entirely optional. I opted to give them a look and found myself wondering if I’d regressed to childhood or something. They were actually quite pleasant to look at and it helps that the words weren’t too long for my regressed-to-childhood brain. I like colours.
The fruit and veg are against the meats and cheeses, with the former taking the role of the good guys, and the latter filling the mafia-esque bad guy role that every kids game needs. I’m sure there’s a message about food consumption somewhere, but for the life of me I can’t figure it out… Don’t eat fruit, it’ll kill your cheese? Veg hurts meat so leave it off the plate? Anyway, I digress.
Each set of levels has you play as a different fruity character (not in that way…) and the goal of pretty much every stage is to get your little cherry, kiwi, whatever to the level’s end portal. Simple enough, or at least for the first few stages it was. Each character has their own special ability that’ll work in tandem with the levels’ designs. It’s a nice and simple mechanic and it works beautifully in tandem with the game’s physics. Ah, physics. Physics plays a big part in Organic Panic as the game is a physics-based puzzler/platformer. Should have mentioned that before…
Bad guys (meats and cheeses) are scattered throughout each level in an attempt to stop you from getting to the end. It’s all very simple, or at least at first. Once I got to the later stages I was genuinely effing and blinding as the cheesy gangsters and the meaty mob members continuously blew me up, got me splatted, etc. The problem? I wasn’t using my brain. It’s easy enough to cruise through the first few stages and just leg it full-speed to the end, but once you get further in and the puzzles become more apparent (early on they’re so easy they just don’t seem to exist) and the enemies become harder, you’ll have to put the old noggin to work.
The game’s physics engine is big part of the puzzle: different materials behave according to how they’re treated. Fluids slosh around and follow what you’d expect water to do. It’s all very smart stuff and I was both pleasantly surprised at how well it worked and equally annoyed that it was constantly getting the better of me. I’m a bloody grown-arse man, I should be able to beat this thing! By careful application of brain power, I was indeed able to progress past the point of “ah, f*%k this”. By that I mean I just repeatedly died, failed, got splatted until I figured out how to go about my business properly. I suppose in that sense, the game isn’t really geared towards kids, though it does look like it should be.
The game’s many levels are made up of just about every colour and the character designs are the sort of thing you’d see on a box of sugar-laden cereal, but coupled with genuinely impressive/difficult physics-based level design, I can only imagine the sort of tantrums a kid would throw if they were presented with this one.
Organic Panic PS4 Review
Organic Panic is a genuinely impressive little game that'll have you smiling and screaming in equal amounts. Intricately designed levels and top-notch physic-based gameplay go hand-in-hand to deliver a rare gaming experience: proper fun that makes you think.
It's colourful, it's bright, it's got some wicked sounds behind it, this one isn't a 'must buy' but it's certainly a 'should try'.
Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a code for the PS4, provided by the PR company working for the developer and publisher. This doesn’t affect how we score the game. Read more about our Review Policy here.