Pawarumi is bringing a new kind of shoot-'em-up to Steam

Generally, people play shoot-'em-ups for their fluid controls, their flashy visuals, maybe their music and sound design. It's not often that the setting and story of a shoot-'em-up are enough to warrant a second glance, but here we are. According to five-man developer Manufacture 43, Pawarumi is "a modern shoot-'em-up set in a retro futuristic sci-fi pre-Columbian universe," and it's coming to Steam Early Access this Monday, October 23. 

Retro futuristic sci-fi pre-Columbian. That sounds like a Starbucks order from the 23rd century. As it turns out, it's actually what happens when ancient civilizations never mysteriously die off. That's the world Pawarumi imagines, one where Mayan-esque people went on to build towering cities powered by light and gravity. It's a bonkers mashup of ideas, but it makes for an interesting art style and some equally bonkers shooting systems. 

Players pilot the Chukaru, a stone ship which wields the powers of three gods. These powers frame Pawarumi's other major hook: the trinity system.

"By shooting with the right weapon on the right type of enemy, Chukaru's unique trinity mechanic enables you to deal extra damage, heal your shield or recharge your super attack at any time," Pawarumi's Steam page reads. "Not unlike the famous game of rock-paper-scissors, this original gameplay mechanic gives a whole new tactical layer to the genre."

On top of the three trinity modes—crush, drain and boost—you can also swap between three primary weapons. The Chukaru comes fully loaded with a rapid-fire turret with a wide spread that tightens up at range, a piercing laser beam and conical lock-on missiles. The aforementioned super attack combines all three weapons into a screen-clearing barrage. It all sounds very Ikaruga, and I do not say that lightly. 

Manufacture 43 expects Pawarumi to remain in Early Access for two to three months and officially release in early 2018, and says the current version of the game is nearly complete. It already sports five levels and three difficulty levels with different endings, though the final boss is still a work in progress. It and myriad tweaks will be added throughout the game's stay in Early Access, after which its price "might" increase. 

Austin Wood
Staff writer, GamesRadar

Austin freelanced for PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and has been a full-time writer at PC Gamer's sister publication GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover-up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news, the occasional feature, and as much Genshin Impact as he can get away with.