Look, I am a complete sucker for platformers, and that draw doubles if the character design is adorable and tiny. Kukoos: Lost Pets, developed by Petit Fabrik and published by Modus Games, was immediately my jam, and from the moment I started playing to when I finally finished it, the game was a blast. If you haven’t played the game in Early Acess on Steam, it’s set in the world of the Kukoos, a small island on a planet covered in water.
On that tiny island is a tree with doors that open to different worlds. After an experiment in which the Kukoos attempt to make their pets more obedient goes haywire, it is up to the Kukoos to find their newly aggressive and unruly pets and regain control and thus, restoring harmony to the once peaceful Kukoo tree. To save the Kukoo Tree, you’ll need to travel through a tour of distinct, colorful worlds solo or with friends (I played all solo and couch co-op). Despite their pleasant looks, the different worlds are filled with wild, unexpected obstacles for the Kukoos to overcome.
While most platformers reward speed, Kukoos: Lost Pets wonderfully encourages players to take their time. Dashing is highly effective, and utilizing this act is necessary to clear certain levels, but it’s not a mechanic that you can lean on. This allows the game’s pacing to be one of its largest strengths. Platformers can quickly become repetitive once you master dashes or, in this case, the jump plus dash combo, but through clever design, that is never the case for Kukoos: Lost Pets. Instead, the way the platformer switches up the tempo allows for a more involved level clear every time you advance.
The tempo switches largely come from the pets you use to move through each platforming area. Each pet offers unique abilities that impact the traversal mechanics and puzzles of the world they’re attached to. With a different pet per world, it keeps the platforming fresh and offers up the game’s difficulty. One of the best examples comes early on from a pet that controls light. While it blind enemies, it also can leave you in pitch black, asking you to recall the area you just traversed. This is a different kind of engagement than just see gap, jump gap, and any creative variation on that. Instead, it deals directly with players’ recall abilities which helps make Kukoos: Lost Pets stand out for me as someone already working to keep the effects of the Alzheimer’s gene at bay.
An adventurous 3D Platformer, Kukoos: Lost Pets is a blast to play, and while a lot of that is inventive mechanics, it’s also how beautiful and creative the character and level designs are. Adorable first, Petit Fabrik manages to work that cute art style into mechanics in a way that makes every design choice count. Instead of just leaning on aesthetics, each choice has a meaning within the larger gameplay. Adorableness isn’t a gimmick in Kukoos: Lost Pets. It’s a whole way to play. And while the Kukoos are these perfect stout little characters, the vibrancy of each level is not just fun but inventive. The environments are layered and bright, and the boss designs manage to make a lasting impact.
Add in that Kukoos: Lost Pets offers up quality exploration, and the game becomes more than just a platformer. Hybridizing the platforming with adventure, the game can offer up quite a few collection challenges for those looking for that kind of reward. Additionally, while collecting offers more to the player, missing some exploration elements doesn’t harm the game’s progression. This allows you to play the way you like the most while tucking away hidden rewards.
Another important element to mention is that Kukoos: Lost Pets is a great game because it truly is for all ages and offers up the kind of fun you can have with your family. While I don’t have children, the platforming mechanics are extremely accessible to those who haven’t played platformers, and ample checkpoints allow for mistakes without extensive punishment. Couple this with the level and character design, and I can see this game work for various gamers, from the younger among us to those like me, just looking for a fun time in an entertaining world with minimal pressure.
If you have been playing Kukoos: Lost Pets in early access, plenty extra comes with the full release of the game. With its official release, Kukoos: Lost Pets gains four new unlockable levels, four new late-game levels to play with Petri, eight new playable Kukoos to rescue and collect, and my favorite thing: full four-player couch cooperative multiplayer. But if couch co-op isn’t for you and you’re looking to play online, Kukoos: Lost Pets will also now feature a live multiplayer join system—drop in and out anytime. The full release also adds swimming to help with difficulty balance and make exploration less dangerous and more rewarding.
Kukoos: Lost Pets is a fantastic 3D platformer that uses its environmental designs. Vibrant in style and fantastic in gameplay, Kukoos: Lost Pets is a joy I didn’t expect from 2022, and I wish I had played it while in Early Access. With couch co-op and online multiplayer options, I can easily see Kukoos: Lost Pets making a great time for families everywhere, especially on Switch.
Kukoos: Lost Pets
- Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
Kukoos: Lost Pets is a fantastic 3D platformer that uses its environmental designs. Vibrant in style and fantastic in gameplay, Kukoos: Lost Pets is a joy I didn’t expect from 2022, and I wish I had played it while in Early Access.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime.