A Retro Revolution (E3 2012)
Amongst the indie games I played at E3, there was one that definitely stood out. It offered an experience unlike all the others, and behind its simple-looking, 2D platforming skin, there's so much more. A small studio in Sweden, Might and Delight, has been hard at work creating something unique, and without a doubt, they've achieved just that. It was a pleasure to meet them and see their enthusiasm with Pid, which has translated into a quality game I can't wait to play again as soon as it's out.
Pid tells the story of a school kid stranded in an unknown planet plagued with strange robotic creatures fighting some kind of war. Here you'll find all sorts of tricky mechanisms, and puzzles galore. It's a platforming game, but there's more to it than that. The varied mechanics really twist the formula we've come to know from older 2D platformers, and while it takes advantage of the beloved retro style of these titles, Pid also shines with innovation.
This dreamlike journey takes the boy through mysterious cities, caves, castles, and a few other inventive scenarios with a special glow. I'll tell you about Pid's gameplay in just a bit, but one of the things that makes this game shine is the aesthetics, so you should know what to expect. Each of the levels is like an individual work of art taken from an artist's portfolio. It features beautiful, pastel-colored elements and backgrounds, with light, fog, and smoke taking center stage. Oftentimes simply paying attention to the colors makes a difference, so you can imagine how important the visuals are for Pid.
The powerful jazzy music also plays a major role in this adventure. Matching the gameplay perfectly, the orchestral soundtrack knows when to sound delicate and when to lead you on. With the ever-changing gameplay, I couldn't imagine anything more fitting for this exciting adventure with eccentric scenarios, characters, and game mechanics.
I'm talking about creating beams of light to levitate towards new platforms, activate switches, change enemy behaviors, avoid danger in the environment, and more. This is the core mechanic, but in later levels, you'll also acquire new elements such as bombs, so the gameplay won't remain the same for too long. Also, you have to gather stars scattered throughout the levels. We weren't told what they were for, but they seemed rather important. Nothing is exactly what it seems when you first see a level, and although this platformer may remind you of popular titles like N+ or Limbo, Pid really has a lot that makes it stand on its own.
It's not easy to get from one side of the screen to the other to advance, and if you don't use your head and fine-tune your platforming skills, you're in for a bumpy ride. With the frequent checkpoints, you won't have to repeat sections a whole lot... unless you just can't figure out what to do or are too slow when it matters. Which will happen, believe me. If there's something the developers were proud about is the challenging difficulty. It's not hard to the point of frustration and desperation, but it certainly doesn't make things easy for the player, complicating the puzzles more and more as you get further in the game, with the addition of boss battles here and there.
Luckily, the mechanics themselves and the controls are spot on. I didn't encounter any flaws, and once I knew what I had to do, I went from one level to the next with a fair bit of confidence. They did a good job balancing the challenge and satisfaction, and with a developing story that will actually matter to you, I can see this game becoming one of the most popular in the next few months. We just have to wait until it's here. It seems like Pid will be available on Xbox LIVE, PSN, and digital PC services sometime before the end of the year. Oh, and it'll feature cooperative multiplayer, so two people can share the experience and really collaborate to get through the levels and the story together. That's a plus.
An enthusiast of gaming adventures as well as party and puzzle games. Writer, editor, translator, graphics designer, and a multitasker at heart. Maria has worked in the gaming industry since 2007, though she's been a gamer since the eighties. She proudly wore her Spain jersey when they won the 2010 World Cup!
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