Penko Park
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 7

Penko Park hands players a camera and encourages them to take photos of weird critters that dwell in the park. It’s an on-rails experience, but various unlocks keep things engaging. The charming visuals, which live up to the promise of being creepy and cute, will draw players in, but although short, the game is still a lot of fun to play.

Gameplay: The premise of Penko Park is straightforward, but capturing photos of critters in various poses is a fun challenge.

Graphics: The visuals look like a children’s storybook come to life, and the designs of the Penko are pretty imaginative.

Sound: The game lacks music during levels, but the ambient noises compensate for this

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Penko Park

Developer: Ghostbutter | Publisher: Ghostbutter | Release Date: 2020 | Genre: Simulation / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Penko Park challenges players to go on the safari of a lifetime with a trip to an abandoned wildlife park filled with spooky yet cute creatures. These critters, called Penko’s, come in all shapes and sizes and have just been chilling in the park since its closure. Upon arrival, players are greeted by a Penko tour guide named Penki, who will accompany them as they go sightseeing. The entire experience is on rails, so players can sit back, relax, and take photos of the weird and wacky Penko.

There’s no denying that Penko Park draws inspiration from Pokemon Snap, which is not a bad thing as the concept is very addictive. As mentioned, the entire experience is on rails, but as players progress through the adventure, they can make it more interactive. On the first few trips, all players can do is zoom in or out and snap photos. Players can save their favorite shots to the park guidebook at the end of each trip, which typically only takes a few minutes. Photos are rated from one to three stars and earn players experience points, which in turn unlock stamps. These stamps unlock new abilities, which further opens up the game.

Abilities include grabbing things like bones and eggs with a “Penko Grappling Hand,” seeing the spooky realm with “Ghost-o-Vision,” and being able to speed up or slow down the vehicle you are in. Players can also unlock special “Penko Balls,” which can be thrown at the creatures to elicit new reactions. Penko Park has only four main stages, but thanks to the Grappling Hand, players can unlock alternate routes.

Visually, Penko Park is a very charming game with papercraft-style visuals that would look right at home in a children’s storybook. The pastel colors also give the game a more lighthearted look. Over 140 creatures make their home in the park, and they are a strange bunch, to say the least. They come in all shapes and sizes and also sport weird names like Babok, Fropp, Omomo, Spink, and Monte. Some Penko look like weird amalgamations of ordinary objects, but that is part of the game’s charm.

The park consists of a forest, volcanic caverns, a lake, and an ancient Penki village. The developers have even added a massive new zone, Shivering Crypts, to the game after release for free. While the game is viewed in first person and levels are 3D, the Penko sprites are all 2D, which means they always face players no matter which angle they are seen from. Although there’s nothing outright scary about the game, a few areas do have a somewhat spooky atmosphere, and players who take the time to read all the Penko descriptions will learn some disturbing facts about the park.

Complementing the visuals are some nice ambient noises to accompany players on their visit. Penko Park does not feature any music during the levels and instead reserves its tunes for the menus. This allows players to hear the unique sounds each Penko makes, which is handy for tracking down some of the ones hiding behind scenery. Players can use the Penko Grappling Hand to knock down some of these obstacles to reveal the Penko’s, but others are a bit more elusive. Players must also capture photos of all the Penko in different moods, such as happy, angry, dancing, hiding, or sleeping. Doing so sometimes requires some minor puzzle-solving, such as playing the correct musical notes on a flute, which is one of the unlocks. Eagle-eyed players will spot these notes on signs dotted around the park, and symbols will mark the correct spots to play them for something to happen.

Overall, Penko Park is a very relaxing experience, and it took us about three hours to complete all the areas, including the last one, a novel take on a final boss battle. Although we unlocked all the abilities and routes, there are still plenty of gaps in our guidebook that can be filled with Penkos in different poses. Another incentive for players to return to the game is the hidden presents that can be grabbed with the grappling hand. These presents contain various hats that can be given to Penki to wear. Pointing your camera at Penko also displays stats, such as which poses are still needed, which is handy.

Penko Park doesn’t deviate too far from the Pokemon Snap formula, but it offers enough to draw in players and keep them hooked. We would have loved to see even more areas, but the four included have plenty to see. There has been a rise in the number of photography games released since Pokemon Snap burst onto the scene, but it is still a very niche genre, so Penko Park is a very welcome addition.

System Requirements

  • OS *: Windows Vista 64-bit or newer
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-2100T @ 2.50 GHz / AMD Phenom II X3 B73
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4850 or NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS *: Windows Vista 64-bit or newer
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2400 @ 3.10 GHz / AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Radeon HD 7700 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: OS X 10.6.3 Leopard 64-bit or newer
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-540M @ 2.53 GHz or Apple Silicon
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 6750M or NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M or M1 built-in (or newer)
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Supports both Intel-based and Apple Silicon Macs
  • OS: macOS Catalina or newer
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-540M @ 3.40 GHz or Apple Silicon
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Radeon R9 M290X or Nvidia GeForce GTX 775M 2GB or M1 built-in (or newer)
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Supports both Intel-based and Apple Silicon Macs
  • OS: Ubuntu 18.04
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-2100T @ 2.50 GHz / AMD Phenom II X3 B73 or newer
  • Memory: 4 MB RAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 18.04
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2400 @ 3.10 GHz / AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space

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