"Platforming in Distress"
Pid opens up with a series of linear, nondescript stills that tell the story of your young main character taking a bus into space and falling asleep on the ride. The boy, Kurt, wakes up in a foreign, otherworldly location because the bus driver haphazardly just dumps him there. It is your duty to help guide Kurt back home, but expectedly, the environment will do its best to be as detrimental as possible.
Pid's presentation is wildly imaginative. The elegance of the main menu is juxtaposed against the colorfully fantastical journey. Kurt's diminutive size in relation to both the environment and any other non-playable characters he interacts with really plays up both the scale and underlying threatening tone of the adventure. The environments are laced with what look to be some excellent vector-based art, and the whole presentation is steeped in a soft focus. The serene atmosphere is developed well by the ambient sounds and musical score that is at times mysteriously brooding and stimulating.
The stellar presentation, puzzle-platforming gameplay, child protagonist, and hazardous environment bring to mind the breakout indie hit, Limbo. Whereas that game started strong, easing the player into new mechanics, Pid starts off slower and builds upon its ideas quickly to a steep difficulty. The puzzles themselves are mentally challenging and rewarding. Unfortunately, it is in the actual execution of controls that the game falters mightily.
Pid's greatest strength and, unfortunately, its glaring weakness, lie in its approach to 2D platforming. As a platformer, there are plenty of random objects to collect, from easy-to-gather star constellations to hidden memorable souvenirs that you naturally accumulate as you traverse and learn the environments. Rather than just jumping around environments collecting inconsequential doodads, Kurt must maneuver the difficult terrain with the aid of an innovative, if disappointingly executed, crystal-and beam-system.
You toss crystals on any surface and a beam of light appears. It is important to note that you do not have exact control of where these crystals land. The beam slowly propels you, and eventually other items in the environment such as enemies, in the direction that it is facing. The crystals can be attached to a surface at any angle, offering you momentum in multiple directions. White blocks are placed throughout levels that, when touched by the beam, possibly yield more collectible stars as they disappear. Be wary, as some of these platforms are useful for reaching secret areas.
Unlike other ubiquitous platforming mascots who set the standard for the genre, Pid's would-be hero is incapable of naturally combating enemies. The game controls a bit slowly, perhaps owing to the otherworldly setting. The slower pace ensures that this is more of a thoughtful puzzle-platformer than a speed and reflexes-based game akin to Rayman Origins.
In Pid, a single touch from a foe is cause for death (which, in retrospect, is amusing, since the abyssal falls that Kurt manages to survive on occasion would likely cause more damage than some of the enemies would). The game's checkpoint and save system is mostly forgiving, as it usually plops you back to just before you met your many untimely ends. However, some of the lengthy boss fights are sources of huge frustration, as the one-hit death mechanic is a call for accuracy that the controls are incapable of affording you.
Even at the reduced pace, if you are playing Pid on a computer, it is highly recommended that you use a controller for better control, as the keyboard inputs for directional control are limited in their movement and difficult to get accustomed to. Its use alleviates much, though not all, of the frustration. Honestly, there is a bit of Portal to the proceedings, as you learn to use the multiple beams in correct succession to solve the environmental puzzles. As such, pixel point precision is often necessary, and placement of the beams can be difficult without a controller, since you do not have direct control over where said crystals / gravitational beams land.
Pid is a punishing game, but not just due to its puzzles. If you can get past, or get used to the wonky control scheme, Pid is still an excellent platformer with a solid concept behind it that should prove to be a memorable experience.
GameDynamo's Score for Pid (PS3)
Writes for a few media outlets, does graphic design work for a few clients, as well as production work for a few studios (all poorly). Believes the best correlation between the words "twilight" and "sparkle" has less to do with vampires and more to do with a sarcastic pony.
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