+Extremely beautiful Japanese and Chinese artistic designs that flow through the game
+Controls are simple and very easy to learn
+Easy to pick-up and go without becoming frustrated with the game
+Every level is unique and offers completely new experiences
-Micromanaging the pilgrims can easily become frustrating late game
-Can become physically demanding from time to time
Originally launched on the PlayStation Vita as Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims in HD! from indie developer Dakko Dakko, Pop-Up Pilgrims is the latest adaption of the classic PSP title. Now in VR as Pop-Up Pilgrims, players once more take the role of a mysterious floating Cloud God who decides to save the peoples of the land from mysterious forces and guide them across multi-tiered VR levels.
Much akin to PSP classics such as Loco Roco and Patapon, our newest entry once more sticks out thanks to its striking use of art that’s beautifully stylised and brought to life through brightly colored levels. Ones where players will get to appreciate a title that isn’t scared to show off its inspiration of traditional Chinese and Japanese pieces of art. While it does carry bright colors and a simple style, nothing feels off or out of place, no does anything feel overwhelming wearing a VR headset. Thanks to this beautiful setting and the charming classic tunes, Pop-Up Pilgrims is a charming game, one that’s hard to walk away from the moment it begins.While the soundtrack itself doesn’t match the art of the game, however, if you’re playing Pop-Up Pilgrims, the music isn’t the reason you aren’t playing the game, but rather the unique mechanics that Dakko Dakko’s Pop-Up Pilgrims is designed upon. Just like the music, the sound design itself feels a little off, often times being accented by a slightly odd scream of pain while the Cloud God himself comes off as a bit of a sinister in comparison to the more humble and prideful man he should seemingly be. After all, he is protecting humans by any means necessary.
Just like the game its a reiteration of, Pop-Up Pilgrims is a rather simple game to play. Your gaze controls where your cloud-shaped pointer goes and a single press of L2 causes your Cloud God to toss the Pilgrims in the air in the direction you have intended for them. If left alone, the Pilgrims will fend for themselves bouncing across platforms as intended or move aimlessly back and forth across the platform they are currently on. Unfortunately, these little ladies and gentlemen do have an uncanny habit of stumbling into death traps and enemies that may inhabit the current level.
If you’re a fan of games like Lemmings, this could very well be seen as a love-story to the very series that started it all. While the Pilgrims themselves are rather smart in comparison, they still have their own shortcomings as previously stated. Luckily, one of these shortcomings isn’t them randomly falling off a ledge in some careless manner. As part of your job to help them and thus guide them to the gates placed throughout every level. Upon completion, players are given one of three ratings ranging from bronze, silver or gold metals. Each rating is determined by several factors: how many pilgrims make it through the gate and how many golden octopus collectibles you collect during the course of the level.Over the course of every level, multi-tasking will become key, as it does become necessary to move your pilgrims about in different directions in order to ensure their survival and a chance to collect every golden squid possible. This brings up the requirement of ensuring the ability to set-up those much-needed ‘safe’ loops that were previously mentioned. While this sounds simpler than it is, this essential mechanic becomes a bore and takes away from some of the game’s fun and charm.
While the game does offer subtle hint scrolls throughout its various levels, they only pertain to some of the games most basic controls, which are not explained earlier on. In order to complete puzzles within the game, players are left to explore each level on their own, a minor distinct distraction that can be ignored if you’ve figured out the basics on your own.
As part of the controls, players will often find themselves navigating the Cloud God back and forth between the platforms with the use of a thumbstick, allowing you to choose how far into the various platforms you wish to be. Along with this comes the need to often move back and forth, causing this game to be best experienced either standing up or in a chair that can roll back and forth with ease. This is mostly due to the need to move so that you can see around various trees and blocks that will get in your way. Toss in the fact this is a VR game and quite a bit of movement is needed in order to progress.
Due to the amount of focus this game does require, keeping as many of your pilgrims alive in order to ensure you have the same amount you finished with being available at the very next level. While this sounds harder said than done, this 2D plane of a VR title is a novel idea, one that’s quite enjoyable when said and done. It has a lot to offer as players navigate their pilgrims and their Cloud God across the various stages and overlapping platforms that call them home.
Pop-Up Pilgrims – PlayStation VR
Developer: Dakko Dakko
Publisher: Dakko Dakko
Release Date: Available Now
While the idea of darting about in real life in order to survey each level is unique as it sounds, Pop-Up Pilgrims isn’t the most revolutionary title in the PlayStation VR’s library of games, but it’s certainly a rather enjoyable experience, one that’s a fun pick-up and go game and could easily be used as a small distraction for fans just wanting something quick and easy to play that isn’t filled to the brim with stressful moments.
Luckily for Dakko Dakko, Pop-Up Pilgrims is a charming title, one that’s both easy on the eyes and quite enjoyable for fans of VR games. It’s also a type of game that the PSVR certainly could benefit from having more titles like and could even inspire an entirely new line-up with the proper amount of time. Till then, this is definitely a game to consider if you own a PSVR and enjoy laid-back titles. If not, then it’s still a title to consider as a future purchase if ever released without VR support.
Our review is based on a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.