Penumbear by Bulkypix icon

Penumbear ($1.99) by Bulkypix and Taco Graveyard is a fresh new platformer that combines exploration and puzzle solving into one dangerous adventure. Are you ready to take the plunge into this strange new world?

I’m a fan of the games that Bulkypix publishes with other game studios, so when I saw the gameplay trailers for Penumbear, I was instantly intrigued. I immediately fell in the love with the visuals, which are just incredible. Everything looks vibrant (when there’s color of course) but it still remains dark and mysterious, and everything is incredibly detailed, especially on your Retina iDevice. The soundtrack is also a bit eerie, and goes along with the story perfectly.

Penumbear by Bulkypix screenshot

Penumbear is not only just a platformer game, but there is a story to go along with it — well, kind of. Penumbear will awaken in a dark castle basement, all alone. The only thing that will keep him company is a pretty purple firefly, but it’s not any ordinary firefly — this purple one has the ability to turn lights off and on! And Penumbear himself has the awesome ability to walk on the lines where shadow and light meet. Combine these two unique characters and you have a challenging little puzzle platformer, where you must help Penumbear escape the dark castle.

The controls for the game are pretty simple. In the bottom left, you will have buttons for moving left and right. On the right, you will have a large button for jumping, and then smaller buttons surrounding it. These are buttons to toggle lights when available, and a color will show up when you are near an appropriately colored light. You can perform double jumps by tapping the jump button again in midair. By default, one tap on the directional buttons will make him walk in that direction, but if you tap twice and hold, Penumbear will run. Running and then doing a jump will turn into a long jump, which is great for getting across dangerous gaps.

Each level will have the goal of getting Penumbear safely to the door at the end of each level. However, while most will require you to make it there, others will require “keys.” The keys are light blue fireflies that you must find and collect by touching them, as they will then follow you. There are also secret, hidden bears to collect in each level too, but they are hidden pretty well, and will take a bit of effort from your main objective to find them all. Bonus bears allow you to skip levels if you have enough of them. And if you’re good enough at this game, you’ll be rewarded with more characters that you can play as.

Backtracking will be a constant thing that you will be doing in this game, because triggering a light can have effects on previous spots in the level. You will also need to watch out for spikes, dangerous creatures, and even evil, hidden shadows that are lurking in the dark. If Penumbear touches any of these dangers, he will die right away — there are no hearts in this game, so be careful.

There are over 100 levels to explore in the game, so rest assured, there’s a lot of content to find and discover in this big ol’ castle. The game splits up the castle into various areas, and each area will have levels for you to go through. You will need to clear the previous stages before you can move on. There are even boss fights for you to encounter, so it’s not always about getting from start to finish.

Penumbear by Bulkypix screenshot

There is Game Center support for achievements, perfect for point hoarders. With 30 achievements to obtain (these will take some time as well), there is definitely a lot to be done in this game. But for the price, you’re definitely getting some quality gaming time with this title.

I’m really enjoying Penumbear so far, because not only does it look great, but it plays fantastically. The controls are easy, and I’ve had no problems with them. The gameplay itself is challenging, and the mechanic is definitely a new twist on the standard platformer and puzzle fare that we normally get on iOS.

If you love platformers and puzzle games, and love finding fresh new concepts that are executed beautifully, then you will definitely want Penumbear in your iOS gaming collection. Get it as a universal download in the App Store for $1.99.