Organic Panic Review
Organic Panic is a new downloadable released this past week for $14.99. It is available on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. Definitely a unique title, the story pits the more organic fruits and vegetables facing off against meats and cheeses for world supremacy. Carrots, kiwis, cherries, and coconuts fight to take down Baby Cheese and his evil empire.
On first play, I was none too impressed with the game, but by the time I am writing this review, I'm ready to give it glowing praise. My first sit-down with the title was some time on the solo play, wherein the first levels are very tutorial-driven. You're given a single hero to control and get through to an end point. You get bonuses for taking down every enemy in the level, as well as for finding a hidden jewel. With only one character, it seems simplistic and mundane. But then, my friend was able to sit down and we had a crack at multiplayer.
Each of your characters has special powers. The cherry can dig through the earth, the carrot has fire power and can climb certain walls, the kiwi can swim and also create more water, and the coconut has the unique ability to mess with gravity and move things in the environment. As the multiplayer cooperative missions progress, the combinations seem crazy, but it's so vindicative when you figure out how to use your powers in tandem to get through the area. Burn the enemies with the carrot, quench the ground for passing with the kiwi, then carrot climbs the wall and burns a bridge's side, allowing kiwi to climb the newly created ramp. Many times we saw the solution, but getting to it was difficult. It was super-rewarding when we succeeded though.
We dabbled a bit with the versus mode, but with only our two controllers there wasn't much there. I see the potential in a four-player free-for-all, and am drooling at the four-player cooperative missions that unlock once you get further in. I'm sure the tricky puzzles we did in 2P only get more interesting as you progress.
After that, I went back to the single player mode, where I found I had quit just before it got past the tutorial area. Once you get the basics down, they throw multiple characters your way, allowing you to swap on the fly between power sets. This makes it interesting, as you have to find the perfect combination of moves and steps to get through.
The game sells itself on realistic physics. While it's hard to link "real-world" physics to a two-dimensional game involving athromorphic foods, they did a fairly good job. Ice melts with fire, dirt can be dug through but not rock, and other differences you come to know and appreciate as the game progresses. At times, I disagreed on the "realism" of the physics, as I popped a hole in a large tank of water near the bottom only to have the water drain about halfway, leaving two different heights of liquid that were connected. Wouldn't they balance out? While the physics aren't perfect, I can say that things react the way I expected them to. Cut through the bottom of a pillar, it'll fall the way you expect it to.
The simplistic graphics, roughshod and short story segments, and odd sound effects turned me off on Organic Panic at the start, making me feel like this was just another game for the bottom of my digital pile. But only after my friend joined the mix and my kids and wife came to watch, even joining in by offering their ideas, did I see the game start to shine. My wife flat out said "you're giving this one a good review, right? It's so much fun!", so I guess I'd better give it high marks. :)
At $14.99, Organic Panic is a great game for puzzle fanatics. It's got the Worms vibe of strategy plus humor. Each level has tons of replay value until you beat it, but it requires enough quick reflexes sometimes that they may have staying power even after completion. Multiplayer is where the game shines, whether it be four active controllers or simply a room of puzzle fanatics offering their two bits. I applaud games that encourage couch co-op, though sometimes wonder why they would do it at the expense of online connectivity. There are leaderboards, but co-op is only done locally. I do agree that it'd be much more fun on a couch setting, but I'd believe that for pretty much every game, so I wonder why that concession was made. I could also see the versus improving if the meats and cheeses had playable characters, expanding your options beyond the four main protagonists.
Without a doubt, though, Organic Panic is a fun little game that'll take you back to the strategic days of games like Worms, where mayhem and comedy go hand in hand. Some of the puzzles can be frustrating, but they can all be figured out with time. I recommend this game wholeheartedly to fans of strategic combat and puzzles.
Thanks to the developers for providing a code for review on the PS4.
Final Score: 4.25/5