Penarium – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Arcade
Developer: Self Made Miracle
Publisher: Team17 Digital ltd
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: Xbox One

Penarium – Review

Site Score
Good: Action packed, Amusing, Fun style, Traps
Bad: Story could have been fleshed out, Perhaps a bit more arenas would have been nice
User Score
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (4 votes cast)

The circus is probably every child’s wet dream, to either attend the glorious shows or become a part of the majestic world of performers. What would you do if you were offered the chance to lead a glorious life of entertaining people? Drown yourself in the laughter of many of the spectators or gain everlasting fame due to your impeccable acts. Well Penarium is none of the above, but it has a circus in it. A circus of death. Can’t have it all, can we.



Willy is a young chubby boy, only a father could love. Willy lives his life out on the farm, tending to chores and helping his father on the land, until one day the circus drove by. The manager offered him a chance to come take a look at the show, free of charge. As a poor farmer boy, Willy could not say no and decided to tag along. Of course, the barred caravan he is placed in during the fairly long travel is not at all suspicious, it’s just the way the circus rolls. Right?

When the convoy finally halts, Willy gets released from his cage, not in the spectator stands but rather in the center of the stage. One could nearly jump for joy, as the spotlights were finally on poor Willy. Sadly for this gullible round boy, this circus is not a conventional one, as it revolves around death. The one starring in the show, Willy in this case, has to survive as long as possible, throughout the many traps that are activated during his ‘objective’. It seems Willy should not have been that willing after all.

Overall the story value is negligible but the overall theme has a certain ring to it. The theatrical scenario, as well as the amusing introduction make it all come together quite well, even though you might have wanted a tad more, as the theme just feels like it could have been explored more. Nonetheless, just enjoy the few cutscenes between the different arenas.



The developers chose to give the game a pixilated look, which makes the game even airier than it already is. Whilst pixilated styles are often used for smaller indie games, they often go for a full retro approach, making it seem dated. Penarium looks surprisingly fresh, detailed and very colorful. There are many moving items, namely the traps and bright explosions and other animations that accompany everything that is happening on screen. Overall a very well chosen style, for a lighthearted game.


When visiting the circus one would expect a charming tune to keep you entertained throughout the many different acts. Penarium offers such entertainments, as its musical score truly sets the mood, albeit using a very limited soundtrack. The tracks that are available are lovely, amusing and what not, but there are only a few of them, which means they will loop, over and over again. That being said, it never became that bothersome, as you’ll be focused on surviving anyway. Nonetheless, a few more tracks would have been appreciated, but perhaps it was all a ploy to annoy people whilst they were dodging all of the nasty traps the game throws at you.


Penarium is one of those arcade, action platformers where death lurks around every corner, albeit in a theatrical fashion. You’ll have to control poor Willy and dodge and jump out of the way of the many traps that each stage will throw at you. That being said, you’ll die – a lot.


The game itself has three modes you can choose from, namely the campaign, arcade en multiplayer modes. Most will speak for themselves, but tend to differ just slightly to keep things interesting. For starters, the campaign mode will offer a little story value, and different objectives for you to complete, before being able to go to the next level. Nonetheless, the basic idea remains the same in every mode, as you’ll simply have to dodge traps in an enclosed arena, where you’ll have to break a specific amount of barrels, gather instruments, get your time in the spotlight and so on. The campaign mode will also serve as a way of unlocking the other two arenas you are able to ‘survive’ in.

Those who are finished with the campaign mode, or simply want to try their luck at an endless mode, will be able to play the arcade mode, which is pretty much a score beater. You’ll have to see how many points you can rack up, as well as how much money you can earn every run. The money can be used in the shop to buy power ups, which charge over time during a level, to help you out just a little bit. Keep in mind, you’ll only be able to unlock all of the arenas if you plow your way through the campaign mode.

Last but not least there is the multiplayer mode, which can be played locally. You’ll have the choice to play co-op or go toe to toe, but the principle of both options stays pretty much the same. If you decide to face off, you’ll have to press a fixed amount of buttons in the arena first. When you wish to mess with your opponent, you can jump on them to make them woozy for a short while. If you decide to play as a team, you’ll have to press buttons as well, but together. Each player will have a button that matches their color and thus you’ll have to press both buttons at the same time.



Penarium is one of those games that treat you extremely bad but still you keep coming for more. Even with the fairly limited content this game is a lot of fun and you’ll spend quite some time trying to unlock all different arenas, as well as complete all challenges. Perfectionists can buy a decent amount of boosts from the shop, to collect them all. Nonetheless, how it stands now Penarium is a good game but with a little more story value and more content this could have been a really great game.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Penarium - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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