TGS 2023: Hands-On With The Tasty Survival Game ‘Pan-Demic’

What are we calling Vampire Survivors-like games now? I don’t remember. But there are getting to be a fair number of those, to the point that you really have to have some kind of gimmick if you want to stand out from the crowd. Take Pizza Hero, for example. You’re pizza! Your weapons are toppings! That’s silly. Or Brotato. You’re a potato! Your weapons are various guns! That is also silly. Food seems to be a popular go-to, is the point I’m accidentally making. Well, Pan-Demic isn’t exactly a standard Vampire Survivors-style game. I had the chance to go hands-on with it at the Tokyo Game Show, and I’ve got both a video and some thoughts on it.

First of all, I can’t be entirely sure what title this game will go under should it ever release outside of Japan. Its title is a Japanese language pun. Pan means bread, and the heroic rice ball in this game is on the run from zombie bread sticks. So it’s a pandemic of bread, or pan. Bread-demic just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Since the game isn’t confirmed for release outside of the Japanese market, it may be a non-issue anyway.

The idea behind this one is that you need to keep your rice ball safe for as long as possible. The bread sticks will try to surround him, and if they so much as touch him at all, that’s the game. You don’t have direct control over the little guy. Instead, you need to entice him by dropping grains of rice on the field. He’ll move towards them, and the more you lay out the faster he’ll go. You can only have so many grains out at a time, however. Exhaust them too quickly and you won’t be able to react if any bread sticks get in your face. Ideally, you drop them out one or two grains at a time, but if you need to hustle feel free to make a trail. You’ll sometimes find additional grains of rice on the field.

When you inevitably succumb to the glutenous hordes, you’re given a score in kilocalories. Basically, the more rice you picked up, the higher your score will be. That more or less correlates to how long you stayed alive, so you’ll want to try to do that little thing as long as you possibly can. I played several rounds off-camera, and they were all just about as short as what you can see in that video. Definitely good for a quick bit of fun, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little hungry for more.

Anyway, that’s Pan-Demic. Bread-Demic? I’m not sure. It’s a cute little game, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of staying power, and it will probably never release outside of Japan. But half the fun of the Tokyo Game Show is finding these off-beat little indies that I can share with you all in some form. Not a full meal, but a decent enough snack. And isn’t that what most good little rice balls aspire to? I… I assume so? Moving right along!