Indietail – Pool Panic

I’ve never been a fan of games that had anything to do with sports. There’re football games, soccer games, golf games, and… well, pool games. Speaking of pool games, today’s review is about Pool Panic! 

Developer: Rekim Games
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Genres: Sports, Indie, Puzzle, Adventure, Action
Release Date: July 19, 2018
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased

Pool Panic takes the classic approach of pool or billiards games and flips it the bird. There are 100+ levels in a ton of different settings and areas that all feature different mechanics that make this game feel like more of a puzzle game than an actual sports game. 

“It’s the least realistic pool simulator!”

– Rekim Games

You’re a walking pool cue ball that’s navigating through the world to uhm… beat all levels. The store page claims that the game plays best with a controller but I personally found the mouse and keyboard controls to be a lot easier to handle. 

Your goal for each level is to toss most to all other pool balls into the pockets before putting in the 8-ball and finally walking down the pocket yourself. Most of the time, though, there’s a twist. On top of the normal goals, there’re also side goals which include “no fouls” (pocketing the cue ball), finishing the level in a set amount of time, finishing it with only so many strokes, and finishing the level with all balls pocketed! You can complete these missions one step at the time or try to achieve them all at once, which leads to a bigger challenge, however, I so far only went for those redos to get them all but never tried to achieve all at once. 

But that seems rather realistic, right? Well, here comes the puzzle-aspect into play:

You need a certain amount of balls in the holes to finish the level, so the game makes it harder for you by throwing in all kinds of random elements at you. In one level, for instance, I had to sacrifice humans to a monster in a cave, then sacrifice their remains to our Lord and Saviour C’thulhu (just kidding, it was just a random altar for probably someone else) to unlock the whole, before eventually pocketing that 8-ball! In another I was running a marathon, there was also a fishing level or an air hockey level, a spider level, and overall there are just way too many different levels in all kinds of different worlds! 

I really liked one level in a medieval area where you’ve got to take part in a jousting tournament but my favourite probably was one of the earlier levels where you’ve got to bait raccoons with meat from the BBQ before then pocketing all those boy scouts and raccoons! 

There’s a huge overworld with a ton of different areas!

The overworld is relatively open with only a few barricades here and there. To proceed into new areas, you’ve got to finish previous levels, resulting in you gaining a way to overcome those barricades. There was a horde of bears stopping me in one place, so naturally, I had to find the bear hunter to scare those bears away!

But then again, you usually can access a lot of areas to some degree without having completed the earlier areas. I definitely would recommend checking out other areas in between if you’re getting frustrated with certain levels.

Speaking of bear hunters, bears and spiders: They’re all presented in the form of legged billiard balls. 

There is a huge variety of billiard balls in all kinds of colours that each have different effects and properties. Some balls are scared when you look at them, some balls that throw you when you get too close to them, and some balls that cause little earthquakes to happen when you annoy them. There are even goalkeeper-balls with arms that stop you from pocketing other balls and dancing balls that dodge your cue ball if you aim at them directly!

Presentation-wise Pool Panic really reminded me of Adult Swim for some reason. It uses vibrant colours and the world is truly unique – and also fun to walk on. The Adult Swim-iness probably was a feeling I had when I looked at some of the balls’ faces that were terrified by me aiming my cue at them and eventually sending them down the rabbit ho– I mean, pocket! Pool Panic uses a vibrant colour palette and some great music by Grandmaster Gareth. The colours, music, and animation are really fitting for a title that is so unique and… droll!

But although Pool Panic is shining when it comes to the world, the presentation and the creativity, I must say that it’s a bit frustrating to control.

I’ve mentioned that I preferred the mouse+keyboard controls before, and I must say that that’s mostly due to the fact that it’s near to unplayable with a gamepad. Even with a mouse however, there may be times where the game acts up, e.g. after locking onto a ball. Sometimes you just try to tune the direction a little bit and your cue just goes crazy! Luckily, after a bit of fine-tuning in the sensitivity department, it becomes playable and a lot less frustrating. I still would call the need for tuning here a flaw, though.

Overall, Pool Panic is indeed the least realistic billiard game I know!

The puzzling-aspects are great, there’s always a new take on levels, the different balls are brilliant in their facial expressions and overall I had a blast playing it. The controls might be a bit frustrating for quite some time but I was able to return to it after a break and play on, so I guess, it’s manageable. On top of that it also has co-op, a versus mode, a ton of achievements, some extra challenges, and the Panic Mode where you’re fighting against the clock! So, there is a lot of value in here! Hence the recommendation. 🙂

Have a nice day!

I’m taking part in this year’s #IntPiPoMo. If you’d like to participate or get to know the other participants, feel free to check this post out!

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