Akimbot hands-on preview [SGF] — Ratcheting up my excitement

1 month ago 59

You just don’t get games like the buddy platformer anymore. I know we’ve recently gotten Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, heck, I gave it a high score in our review, but they used to be everywhere. Jak & Daxter, Banjo-Kazooie, all IPs we miss dearly. Evil Raptor, the team behind Pumpkin Jack, doesn’t want those memories to die, and after bringing us back to MediEvil with its little brother in Pumpkin Jack, the team is back again to take us a decade or two back in Akimbot.

Akimbot | Release Date Trailer

I had a chance to go hands-on at Summer Game Fest, and Akimbot knows its subject matter. The initial cutscene introduced us to our two robots Exe (pronounced EX-see, the lead character), and Shipset (the sarcastic sidekick). For some reason the robot mob has picked them both up, but after Shipset distracts the driver into not paying attention to the road, a crash sets our heroes (maybe?) free. One thing I’ll mention about Shipset, he is over-the-top annoying. I get the feeling Evil Raptor is leading us into caring for the character, but in the first level you almost want to punch him. It’s a forced partnership here at the start, so it makes sense.

As soon as you pick up the controller, it’s immediately clear what the inspiration for Akimbot is. The bones of previous platformers are here, but the stylings of Ratchet and Clank stand out. Exe even has a little bit of the ears in his design that make you think of Ratchet. Even so, the character models find their own flair, with the robot aesthetic looking clean. There’s still a little work to be done before release in sprucing up some of the textures, but the choices work well for our metal friends.

At its core, this is a great platformer. Jumping around the beach level was intuitive, with the double jump and dash feeling natural to me. Thank you Evil Raptor for not locking these behind a skill tree. Fans of this type of gameplay will be very happy, because it hit the spot for me. It’s simple, but it just works. The linear level feels larger than it is as well, with a few secrets to find as you trot towards the objective. The good news is you never feel constrained, which is something that can hinder some smaller titles.

Once I made it to the combat, I was in my happy place. Exe is equipped with a melee blade, an assault rifle, and a special attack kit of your choosing from an in-level shop. The melee has a good weight to it, and the assault rifle has the pop you want from this kind of third-person shooter. While I like the special weapon (I picked the akimbo pistols), what I chose didn’t have as much impact as I’d like. That could just be this kit in particular, but I’d certainly like it to feel more ultimate. It does recharge from beating enemies, and you can use it as long as you have bullets to fire instead of there being a time limit, so there are some differences compared to other video game “ultimates”.

After battling across the beach and riding a few boats (one of which was a crazy set piece with turrets that nearly took me out multiple times, and another versus a laser turret that required some very specific timing), the mob boss that had captured Exe and Chipset showed up. Again, nothing here is too complicated, with a fun boss fight that ended in his demise. I just love how my instincts from years of playing PS2 games took over, allowing me to go through this level with ease.

Another little highlight I wanted to mention, the hacking mini-games. These are easy to overlook, but the simplicity of hacking is in its short and fun design. Everything has fifteen second time limits, and there are a few different styles, like a centipede one where you have to collect three blocks, or pressing the right buttons as they pop up. It’s not anything game changing, and it’s not even something you engage with a lot, but making it a mechanic I’m not groaning over is a positive in itself.

I already knew when I heard the team behind Pumpkin Jack was making Akimbot that this should be good. I was sold when I saw it was inspired by some of my favorite platformers. Now, after playing Akimbot, I can’t wait to dive back in.

Akimbot releases on August 29th for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series consoles, and PC. The demo is also available on Steam Next Fest which runs June 10th-17th.

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

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