Fans of Pokémon Snap really ought to consider jumping into Penko Park. They’re basically cut from the same cloth.
Penko Park was once a thriving wildlife reserve, but in recent years it’s been left to go to ruin. It’s still home to many exotic creatures though, and so with camera in hand, you set out on an adventure to capture evidence of all the critters still residing there. Just like Pokémon Snap, the action here is on rails, with you needing to pay attention to your surroundings and take photos of all the creatures you might pass by.
There are four regions to explore in Penko Park, each one filled with its own weird and wonderful life forms. As you progress through the game you’ll unlock a variety of tools to help you uncover more of the world: an extending hand to pull switches and grab interesting artefacts; a ball to toss at creatures; the ability to enter Ghost-o-Vision mode, and more.
Many creatures in Penko Park have different moods you need to try to capture, which can often be activated by interacting with them in the right way. Tossing your ball towards them might make some happy, for example, or it might make others angry (some might simply not care at all). You’ll need to experiment with the world around you in order to capture all creatures and all their moods – and of course, run through each level multiple times.
It can get a little repetitive, but thankfully each level has several branching pathways which can be unlocked as you play. Flip a switch or knock down an obstacle, for example, and you might gain access to a new path, either straight away or next time you run through the level. Each new path opens up opportunities to capture new creatures, and so you’ll want to make sure you’ve explored each area thoroughly.
We mentioned Ghost-o-Vision mode – and indeed, not everything in Penko Park is quite as it seems. The abandoned park gives off enough of a spooky vibe as it is – particularly travelling through its abandoned visitor centre – but once you unlock this new mode for your camera, you’ll be able to spot things that weren’t there before. It’s hardly horror: Penko Park leans heavily into spooky-cute territory, so you don’t need to worry about being made to jump. This isn’t that type of game. It’s simply another tool to use on your camera.
The joy of Pokémon Snap is seeing creatures you already know and love out in the wild. Of course, Penko Park‘s creatures are all original, brand new creations and so you don’t get the thrill of recognising and photographing your favourite pocket monster. But it doesn’t matter: they’re so wonderfully designed that you’ll quickly become attached to them. From a sleeping lemon with wings to a giant poo-shaped beast as tall as the trees, each creature has its own name and personality, and unlocking their different moods becomes a thrill, particularly as you become more familiar with them.
This isn’t a long game: you’ll likely complete Penko Park in three or four hours, but it’s the sort of lovely, relaxing adventure that’s perfect to escape into for a short time. Its art style is wonderful, and the spot of humour injected into it through various signs you can interact with is a nice touch.
Some may find it repetitive, but those who like the idea of going on a strange and spooky safari through an abandoned wildlife park will love Penko Park. It’s a short and sweet experience brought to life with a cast of creative critters – and hunting them down to shoot them (with your camera of course) is nothing but a joy. If you like Pokémon Snap, this one is for you.