HomeReviews4.5/5 ReviewPromenade Review

Promenade Review

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Games are so big these days. Sure, I’ve enjoyed getting lost in the Forgotten Realms or stalking the corridors of Hogwarts, but sometimes I just need a few hours of escapism that isn’t going to demand hours upon hours of my time. The latest game to tick that box is Promenade, an adorable platformer inspired by its 3D cousins.

This is a game which looks like a children’s storybook come to life, complete with a whole manner of colourful characters. You play as a young lad who is on a mission to repair the great elevator, which is a lift between worlds. The cogs which once made it turn have been split, scattered far and wide by an evil squid like creature, bathed in a purple mist. Yep, it’s clearly evil then.

promenade review 1
Should you take a trip along the Promenade?

You wouldn’t get very far without your trusty sidekick either, a little pink poulp (that’s an octopus to me and you) whose primary skill is grabbing onto things. Luckily the little fellow is quite adept at it too, because you can’t jump very far, or high, on your lonesome. You can roll however, as well as pick up objects and enemies and toss them away. They will respawn as you’ll discover before too long, because they are also integral to getting around in Promenade.

The little pests are actually more important than they seem, because if you throw downwards whilst in mid air, it will propel you that little bit further and make the difference between reaching the other side, and plummeting to your death. I say death, but Promenade is far too cute for that, you’ll simply respawn instead. You can take damage however, and have five hearts to hand. If you are running low, make sure to hop into a comfy hammock to immediately replenish your lost health.

Before too long you’ll arrive at some genuinely challenging aerial combos which you’ll be required to pull off. For the most part, Promenade controls well. It’s in these segments, however, that things feel less responsive than ideal and your little companion will reach out and miss what you need to latch on to, causing you to start over. Or, instead of throwing downwards to generate lift, you’ll casually toss your item away.

You’ll learn a few extra tricks on your travels however, such as the ability to jump higher from a standing start, grab onto hooks (which just so happen to be conveniently scattered around each world) and launch further from those hooks as you swing away. It’s not exactly a Metroidvania game, but a little backtracking and plenty of exploring will often pay off. This is certainly the case when it comes to the arcade machines which are scattered around the hub area, seemingly without power. There is a way to fire them up, and try your hand at some familiar looking retro mini-games.

You can clearly see Promenade’s inspiration in how the game is structured. The great elevator is the hub area if you like, which acts as a gateway to different biomes, but there are cog pieces to find here too. Once you enter a world, there are plenty more scattered around, but you have a certain level of choice over which order to collect them in. It’s akin to a 2D version of Super Mario 64 in this sense.

promenade review 2
A variety of biomes

As you would expect, the cog pieces range from being simple to grab, right the way up to surprisingly tricky. If you see a mysterious glowing rectangle doing loop de loops in the air, grab it. This will expand your scrapbook, giving you more information about the name of each cog piece, in the form of a clue in how to obtain it. 

There are also “trials” (the entrance to them represented by a large golden door frame) which take place in a peculiar realm and are centred around a specific theme. For example, exclusively using ziplines to cross gaping chasms as you hop from one hook to another. These can be tackled a second time, against the clock, for an extra cog piece too. These trials often present the greatest challenge.

Getting to know each level will be beneficial, as a penguin armed with a jetpack will often want to race you. Yep, you read that correctly. The first encounter is pretty easy going, but it will want to go again, and pick up the pace. This is a huge part of Promenade’s charm, you have no idea what you’ll be faced with next. There’s a truly fantastic stealth section which, again, comes out of nowhere.

Exploring pays off, as you will happen across dungeons which are essentially sub levels. These will test your grey matter a little more intensely, through a clever use of puzzles. One has you tracking down and using blue orbs to power moving platforms, needing to get the correct sequence in order to move on. These areas aren’t just there for a mental workout, fearsome boss characters lie in wait and are itching for a scrap.

These are just a few examples of how varied the gameplay in Promenade is. Each biome doesn’t feel like a rinse and repeat with a different skin on. Instead, the puzzles are well thought out and intuitive because if you think “that might work”, you’ve most likely just found the solution. Developers Holy Cap have integrated loads of ideas in this collectathon. It’s taken inspiration from platformers but not merely copied them. It feels a little bit like a “greatest hits” of the genre, which is the same way I felt about It Takes Two when I played it.

promenade review 3
Promenade is very pretty

At first I thought I was going to tear through Promenade in a couple of hours or so. However, like any good platformer there are a whole host of secrets to find off the beaten track. There is also a variety of different biomes to explore, with their semi open nature hiding a great deal of cog pieces to find. If you’ve any concerns regarding the price point, I did too at first. However, after going hands on with Promenade I can confidently say you have no reason to.

As I touched on earlier, Promenade really does look pretty. It’s not the most detailed style, but the bold, bright colour palette makes for a visually stimulating, endearing game. One little feature I did love was upon pausing the game, the screen morphing into a still watercolour painting. It looked beautiful, and the transition is seamless. 

There’s no denying Promenade is a charming game, and this description can be extended to the soundtrack also. The look, sound and relaxed gameplay all combines for a stress free experience that is really enjoyable. Put simply, I’m really fond of Promenade. So much so that I felt compelled to track down every cog piece in my scrapbook before moving on. That, more than anything, is a very good sign indeed.

Promenade is a lovingly crafted platformer that may catch you off guard. I went in with no real expectations, and as a result ended up being pleasantly surprised every step of the way.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Looks adorable
  • Plenty of cog pieces to track down
  • Creative, varied gameplay
  • Arcade games are great fun
Cons:
  • Occasionally fiddly controls
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Red Art Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 23 February 2024 | £20.99
Darren Edwards
Darren Edwards
I have been playing games since a very early age, thanks to my Dad's encouragement. I've been an Xbox gamer since the very beginning, the Master Chief is to thank for that. I'm also a big Nintendo geek, and my other half is a PlayStation nut. I'll play pretty much anything in any genre (although FIFA and COD maybe pushing it).
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Looks adorable</li> <li>Plenty of cog pieces to track down</li> <li>Creative, varied gameplay</li> <li>Arcade games are great fun</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Occasionally fiddly controls</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Red Art Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 23 February 2024 | £20.99</li> </ul>Promenade Review
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