Panoramical

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Panoramical Game Poster Image
Psychedelic mix of landscapes, music is quite memorable.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Entirely about dabbling with your own patience, creativity, curiosity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No characters in this game. 

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn.

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Panoramical isn't a game -- it's really more of a downloadable musical toy. But that doesn't mean it's something kids would pick up and play once; it just doesn't lend itself to "finishing" or even necessarily "making progress." If you adjust your expectations accordingly, there's a truly entrancing and very bizarre experience to be had here. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's perplexing, but it's typically always intriguing. 

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What's it about?

PANORAMICAL is a game that has no story. There are no characters. And without a narrative, there are no blatant lessons to learn. After a brief tutorial to hold down a button and move around (be it the mouse or a joystick), you understand that your movements directly affect the color, shapes, and music taking place on-screen. What unfolds may be a nature scene or some very psychedelic abstract shapes. What you learn from that is up to you.

Is it any good?

This musical experience is so, so, so weird but in a very good way. What's key to appreciating it is throwing away any preconceived notion of what a game "should" be and then realizing it's more of a toy you mess with than "make progress on." You're free to pass from one blank screen to the next by holding down the space bar, and from there you begin to tinker with your controls to tweak the music in the background and the visuals on-screen. What emerges is entirely up to you based on the pre-running default images and melodies in the blank screen: By holding down any one of nine keys and moving the mouse around, you bring different visual and audio effects into play. The result is mesmerizing, bewildering, and entrancing. Watching clouds and rain or jagged lines and shapes emerge out of the nothingness, and then finding the perfect visual to complement your current mood or make you laugh, is the sort of experience only a computer or a digital game can offer, and this takes ample advantage of that. As such, it's hard to chart on the "good/bad" binary, but it certainly is memorable and hard to put down.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the expectations they have from a video game. When something doesn't meet your expectations, what is your reaction? Why?

  • What is the value of a video game that's more like a strange musical instrument than something you can "beat"?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love creativity

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