Recently we’ve begun to see a surge in stylish indie platformers. Each year since Braid came out, one indie platformer comes out that reinvents the genre. Pid is the first title from Swedish studio Might and Delight and it certainly looks the part.
Let’s find out together if it is more than just another pretty face in the platforming world.
Pid is a platformer in the same vein as Limbo. It is slower paced and our protagonist isn’t going to be triple jumping all over the screen in amazing feats of skill. He is a simple boy on an insane adventure and is constrained by his size. To accommodate this size discrepancy, our protagonist has gained the ability to attach towers of light to the surface of floors and walls.
Thus with this one move, we have an exceptionally unique platformer.
Pid starts off with our young commuter riding his local space bus a few stops past it’s destination. When the bus hits the end of the line, he finds himself stuck on a mysterious world with no real prospects of getting off said planet. Along the way we’ll see him stumble across resistance forces, dangerous robots and hidden constellations. Really, Pid goes in some surprising places with the story and that really boosts the gorgeous backgrounds.
What we have here is a strictly linear adventure. This paired with an item system opens the game up to some interesting problem solving inside the platformer. While there won’t be too much branching outside the beaten path, the level structure follows some interesting patterns. Unfortunately, many strategies tend to get overused for the sake of it leaving a bit of repetitiveness to the platforming. The more puzzling obstacles and enemy placements allow for some unique strategy, but many times you’ll be repeating the same formula to get past many obstacles.
Pattern recognition like this is noticeable, especially when you mess up in a few places. It is inevitable that you’ll screw a few of the trickier platforming sections up. While the mechanics are solid, the main character isn’t exactly the best at maneuvering since he is a one hit kill kinda kid, it does get somewhat frustrating.
Fortunately the game has quite a few little weapons to pick up along the way and store in his backpack. He’ll grab bombs, body armor, explosive jumps and many more items to move around arenas. While I’d have liked a bit more strategy employed with weaponry (many times I moved through large sections without even touching an item), the usages when needed expand the gameplay and strategy greatly.
Just looking at the screenshots above, you can clearly tell that Pid is a gorgeous game. Backgrounds and characters are full of some great personality and thought. Levels have some very charming designs and it lives up to the story the game creates. Unfortunately, the basic platforms all seem to follow the same design elements. While there is an interesting design philosophy, eventually all you really see are squares and 45 degree angles. This is mainly because the focus on attaching your little light bridges to the ground is a major point of the game. You’ll be looking around at walls and floors until you realize everything is the same throughout. The set dressing looks nice, but eventually gets lost to geometry.
This focus on the platforms themselves until you get to the big boss battles. Here everything opens up and the game gets to be a bit creative. The battles themselves however get a bit tedious due to an overcomplicated attack method at times. Battling the giant red balloon you see below can get tiring as the pattern involves many steps while maneuvering multiple obstacles while hitting with fairly precise attacks. It’s frustratingly long and kinda goes against the pacing set up in the rest of the game mostly because the kid’s health stats doesn’t factor in long platforming segments. At least not when the rest of the game offers so many check points when exploring.
This does make for a nice challenge however for those like me that were sitting around waiting for something with a bit more action to it. Once again, it’s overly precise with the number of steps it forces you to repeat and in that, the trickiness of the game finally opens up.
These events truly captures the idea of what Pid was aiming for by having the bosses move though background and foreground while constantly interacting with the character. The personality also put into the bosses just seems so much more than what is delivered through the rest of the game. It makes these events something to really anticipate.
Pid is pretty much what you see on the surface. A regular platformer with visuals that pair alongside it’s unique mechanic. While the game does get repetitive at times, there are enough intriguing things developing in this strange and beautiful world to keep you moving forward. What we have here is a good first step from an creative new design studio.
While Pid might not become the revolutionary new indie platformer for this year, it’s still a solid one worth a look.
Final Breakdown: 4/5
[+Great Visuals] [+Interesting World] [+Unique Background Plot] [+Fun Platforming Mechanic] [-Repetitive Level Designs]