Pid is a retro-inspired platformer created by Might and Delight, an independent studio based out of Stockholm. In it, you play a small boy named Kurt who has been stranded in this strange new world filled with evil robots and it’s your job to help him escape. Utilizing the ability to create gravity-defying beams, you must guide Kurt through a myriad of puzzles and platforms. Twinfinite staff member Matt and I got some hands on time with the game and I’m so glad we didn’t overlook this one.
In a market that is saturated with “retro-inspired indie platformers,” it’s nice to find an example that goes above and beyond expectations. Pid is a dreamy, gravity-defying puzzle/platforming game that has taken a lot of inspiration from classic NES games like Little Nemo. Kurt, the little boy you control, is able to drop little orbs that plant a beam of gravity defying energy. This energy always pushes Kurt away from the surface on which it’s planted. If you drop it on the ground directly below you, you will start to float upwards. Kurt is able to drop up to two beams on his own that he can use to reach places he wouldn’t normally be able to jump to. You can also use these beams to help you collect the stars, because what’s a platformer without collectables? The stars allow you to buy upgrades later on, so it’s a good idea to collect as many as you can without putting yourself at risk.
Having two beams is absolutely necessary. The levels are designed in a way that you won’t be able to navigate them without use of your beams and, occasionally, your power-ups. While you are navigating Kurt through each section, you need to mind the various enemies and traps that stand in your way. You are only allowed to get hit once. If you get hit, you will have to start the section over again. Finding a piece of armor will grant you one additional hit before you have to start the section over. It is in your best interest to avoid danger as much as possible if you want to clear the level.
The demo that I played made it seem like you have an unlimited amount of lives, so if you fail at clearing a section, you can try a different way. When you factor in the various enemies and traps and your innate weakness, it becomes apparent that you will need to be quick on your feet to successfully complete each stage. You will need to pay attention to spotlight patterns and enemy patrol patterns in addition to figuring out how your beams and power-ups are going to get you through this one. Pid definitely has the challenging NES-style platformer vibe, but without that sense of hopelessness you feel when you’re getting your ass beat over and over a la Castlevania or Contra.
You can’t be fooled by the soft, dreamlike visuals presented by Pid. This isn’t just a kid’s game; it’s really a game for everyone. It’s definitely a “deceptively challenging” game, but the challenge is presented in a way that’s totally fair. You are the only reason you didn’t make it to the end of the stage. Kurt controls wonderfully and you are given an arsenal of tools and upgrades to navigate your way through the stages. The previously mentioned armor upgrade is exceptionally useful, as is the rocket boost that allows you to reach very high platforms that a single beam won’t let you reach. You can also pick up weapons such as bombs to clear out some enemies, but in my brief experience it’s best to save these for emergencies only. You are only given a limited amount of bombs and combat isn’t really the focus of Pid.
Pid also allows for a friend to join in with you. There are many advantages to having a partner. Sometimes just having someone else who thinks differently can help you get through a particularly tough puzzle. Also, games are better when played with friends, right? Having a friend allows you to plan out how you are going to proceed through the level and gives you more flexibility with beam placement. If another player joins, you are each restricted to placing one beam, but having someone who can independently move allows for dynamic beam placement. Having someone that can quickly react to divert an incoming enemy or save you from accidentally hitting a hazard is excellent.
Pid will also have large scale level bosses. Unfortunately the demo available at PAX this year ended seemingly right before one of these boss battles. I really would have liked to see how large scale bosses are presented in Pid considering you’re only allowed a hit or two. With that being said, the character designs in this game are unique and colorful. The visuals in general are nicely stylized, with interesting enemies and pleasing landscapes. I’m a big fan of the art style if you couldn’t tell. You really feel captive in this strange, hostile world.
Pid will be available as a downloadable title on consoles and PC later this year.