Pawarumi is a shoot ’em up that takes the normal formula of screen-crawling and enemy blasting before adding in a cleverly-executed strength, weakness, and boost system powered by a simple tri-colour system.
While the game is currently campaiging over on Kickstarter for 15000€ in order to finish & finesse the game, the build that I got to play recently -at Rezzed- felt ready to go and feature complete. Indeed, the developers who I spoke to, before embarking on the three stage demo, were confidently beyond prototyping, and even running a high-score contest at the stand.
The game, they explained, was currently fully-playable, with three of the five total levels in place, and the mechanics fully tweaked and balanced. Assets like the games art, and music were fully in place, and the future levels were already plotted out, simply waiting on implementation and deployment.
Pawarumi takes place in a setting where the conquests of the New World never happened, and the Mesoamerican civilisations ultimately became illuminated and conquered the world; as such the strange angular patterns associated with Maya, and the symmetrical, sometimes snaking patterns that are tied to Aztec culture run throughout. the game’s levels – albeit straddled with the gleaming shimmer of future tech.
Much like other shoot ’em ups, the shape of the enemy ship indicates their behaviour pattern should you not fell them early on – although I certainly didn’t get enough time to start picking them out from the rest, mainly because of the colour-coded combat system.
Blue beats Green, Green beats Red, Red beats Blue. If you fight like that then you’ll do double damage, easily ripping through most enemies. Shoot an enemy with the same weapon type as they are colour and you’ll recharge your shields. However, if you go against the grain and shoot the weaker colour at an enemy you’ll be powering them up, but charging up your super bar.
I’m not a major fan of the genre, as I’m far too easily distracted by bright colours and moving objects as to concentrate in the games, and as such normally explode in horrible mechanical death after a dozen or so skirmishes. Pawarumi offers a kind hand out to those of us with short attention spans in its shield regeneration. If you’re being torn to shreds by a mid, or final, level boss and their flurry of bullets and lasers then you can simply switch to the same colour as them in order to rebuild your defences and get through the next rally.
The choice of which way to take the game’s levels on is left entirely to the player’s choice; with every level ending offering you up the remaining worlds. This means that if you do struggle -as I did- with the temple escape level and its giant rolling boulder, then you can at least get that out of the way first.
To backtrack a little bit, I mentioned the super bar earlier. This is, simply, a bar which gradually charges as you drain enemies by attacking them with the weaker attacks. Once entirely full you can unleash a massive barrage of rockets which will clear all but bosses from the screen with massive damage. It’s a really interesting way to handle specials, and it’ll be interesting to see how it is used at the hands of score-leaders and speed-runners. I do, however, partially hope that we’ll see an extra mode where the entire mismatch situation results in exponentially more dangerous enemies with no gain for the player – possibly as part of a post launch set of challenging modes.
Pawarumi’s setting, and soundtrack (self-labelled: Electro Metal Peruvian) are absolutely brilliant; and while the game is certainly extremely short compared to some shoot ’em ups that hasn’t stopped games like Ikaruga (a stated inspiration) from embedding themselves in the industry’s culture.
With 23 days to go on the Kickstarter, and a full version of the game as a reward starting at €15, there’s a whole bunch of reasons to head over to the page and give it a look.
Full launch is planned for mid-May, for Windows, Mac & Linux, and the team are making efforts to get the game over to consoles in the future as well