Well, it has been almost a year since my last post. I’ve entertained the idea of posting things over the last several months, but to be frank, there was not much in the way of interesting games or news that I found worth reviving this blog for. To be fair, I haven’t really been following the news sources I used to frequent, sticking primarily with my often publicized favorite gaming site, GiantBomb, who doesn’t do much of the news side of the industry so much as entertainment and reviews/quicklooks of games.

With the exception of a possible Bioshock Infinite & Burial at Sea Ep1/2 review(s) or a discussion about the dissolution of Irrational Games, or maybe something about Dishonored and the various DLCs, or my time with DMC, I have not seen any games that have gotten me excited. This new generation of consoles, and their games, has done nothing to gain my interest. I’ve been spending more time on my old PC with Steam, indie/greenlight games, than on my 360. Been playing a decent amount of Terraria and FTL (more on that later), I’ve even started Tactics Ogre (PSP) over which is something I never thought I’d do.

However, in the last couple weeks I’ve come across a handful of awesome titles that have me excited for gaming again. The cool part is that they’re not huge AAA games, they’re smaller games. With the exception of Child of Light, all the developers are small indie teams. Today I have: Child of Light, Hyper Light Drifter, Transistor, Below, and FTL: Advanced Edition.

Child of Light

Being touted as a return to the more old-fashion turn-based RPGs of the 90s (JRPGs to some) while showcasing some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve seen in a game in a good long time is enough to get my attention. Combine that with a breathtaking soundtrack, exploration/traversal mechanics, crafting systems, and what I can hope is an engaging story.

I feel I should stop talking and just show the game.

Child of Light – Lemuria Trailer
If you don’t want to play this game after that trailer, you probably don’t have a soul.

Child of Light – Making-of #2: Sound and Artistic effects

Child of Light will be released on April 30th for just about every platform.

Hyper Light Drifter

I knew nothing about this game til a few days ago when it was mentioned at the GiantBomb PAX East panel as being inspired by Link to the Past, Earthbound, Secret of Mana, and Diablo. Hooking me after that description I searched around for information and found a well of information via Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Drifter Kickstarter page. Yes, another kickstarter game; that went about $600,000 over their asking price resulting in this game becoming so much more than originally planned and seemingly has turned into something truly awesome.

Drifters of this world are the collectors of forgotten knowledge, lost technologies and broken histories. Our Drifter is haunted by an insatiable illness, traveling further into the lands of Buried Time, steeped in blood and treasure hoping to discover a way to quiet the vicious disease. Echoes of a dark and violent past from the dead eras resonate throughout and he can’t help but listen.
~Heart Machine’s Kickstarter page

It has a very fast paced combat system with upgradable skill systems, lots of weapons and armors to loot, a number of exploration mechanics (while not locking content), co-op play, a story and arena modes, and a really cool electronic soundtrack by DisasterPeace.

I have a couple images from the game and a decent bit of gameplay from Polygon’s interview at GDC last month.

Hyper Light Drifter – Polygon Live at GDC 2014

For backers HLD will be out this summer, for everyone else it will be a bit later, probably some time around the Holidays (specific dates unknown)

Transistor

click for wallpaper

The funny thing about this is that the last time I posted anything Newsworthy was from PAX East 2013 in which I talked about Transistor and how excited I was for the next SuperGiantGames release. I actually forgot about Transistor until this past weekend when trailers from PAX East 2014 were making their rounds. They didn’t have much in the way of new content to show. They had the same gameplay as last year but in a demo that was showcasing the content in its most polished state. Though the gameplay hasn’t changed, it has received visual changes all across the board, runs smoother, plays faster, and still delivers the action we’ve now come to expect from the creators of Bastion.

SuperGiantGames hasn’t put out a lot in the way of media over the last year so it’s really good that PAX coverage put this back on my radar. It was hard to find a good video that showed what’s been done in the last year, but looking at the trailer below and the one I posted last year (linked above, and should still be on the front page below) the differences are noticeable.

Manipulating Time with Transistor – PAX East 2014

Transistor will be released May 20th for PS4 and PC.

Below

I’m actually quite surprised to be talking about Below. Last year when I saw it I wasn’t super impressed nor was I interested in Below. Don’t misunderstand me, this wasn’t because the game looked bad or wasn’t what I was interested in, it was because when it was first announced at E3 it was an XBOX One exclusive and I had no interest or intention of purchasing an XBONE (still don’t). At PAX this year it was announced that Below would be coming to PC via Steam as well. Now we’re in business.

Below is a deeply atmospheric and moody isometric action-adventure dungeon crawler, with rogue-like elements, a touch of Dark Souls, and music by Jim Guthrie (of Sword & Sworcery LP fame). You can find a more detailed description and a peek at how it plays in the video below.

First Look: Below demo with Capybara Games
*I think there is an issue with the contrast because other videos/trailers have a much better black scale.

Below is due out some time this year.

FTL: Advanced Edition

It turns out I never talked about FTL when I was maintaining the blog even though I’d been playing it off and on since it’s release about 2 years ago. It’s an unforgiving game that punishes you whenever you least expect it to.

Each time you start you can choose your ship (from those you’ve unlocked) each with their respective crew members (of various races) and their own default weapons and systems setups. You’ll progress through 10 sectors, each with many locations to visit that will have either nothing, some sort of random encounter (good and/or bad), combat situations, stores, and more. As you progress through you’ll be able to acquire new crew members, level them up, get new weapons, augments, systems, upgrades for the installed systems, and more. If you lose a crew member they’re gone, unless you have a Cloning Bay (a new system added in the free update). If the ship’s hull reaches 0, BOOM!, it all goes away and you start all over.

Just 2 weeks ago FTL:Advanced Edition was released (free update to owners of FTL on Steam), with the iPad version release, that added a bunch of new content. It added a new race (making 8 available races), 2 new systems to install on your ship (mind control and hacking), a handful of new weapons and variations on existing weapons, new effects on old and new weapons (such as stun and freeze), and one of the best pieces of the update is improved information relayed to the player in encounter/on weapons/etc (simple but very handy).

FTL: Giant Bomb Quick Look

*This Quick Look is from the original release, not the AE, because it better conveys the mechanics and feel of the game for those not already familiar with it. The FTL: AE Quick Look can be found here.

If you have not played FTL before and think you might like to, and if you have an iPad, I highly suggest the iPad version. The guys at Subset games did a phenomenal job in porting the controls and the feel incredibly smooth. The iPad was made to be able to play this game. I have it on both and very much prefer the iPad version for the ease of control and the ability to take it anywhere I want.

FTL:AE is out now for PC and iPad.

Feels good to breathe some life back into this place. I cannot say for certain I’ll make more regular attempts to maintain it, but it is something I’d like to do. I will clean up the side stuff after this goes up since it’s all out of date.

I wish I had more to post but I haven’t been playing much in the way of new games. Broken Age, a game I publicized at length and a game I personally backed on KickStarter, came out and I have yet to sit down and play it. It’s loaded up on Steam, I just haven’t felt like jumping into it. I’ve watched some of DoubleFine’s TeamStreams for their other KickStarter title, Massive Chalice, that I also backed, and it’s looking pretty good. For the time being I’ll be playing Terraria while eagerly awaiting it’s next big patch (the last one before the original creator moves on to other projects and passes the torch to a trusted group for any future updates), FTL: Advanced Edition (iPad version), I’m about 30 floors deep in my very first trip through the Palace of the Dead in Tactics Ogre (PSP), and I’ve put a few hours into my first replay of Bastion since my review. At least for the next two weeks until Child of Light comes out.


It’s been a while and I’ve not given up on the blog despite my lack of postings. Now that summer break is here I’m finally diving into Bioshock Infinite and I have Dishonored and DMC waiting patiently. I’ve been putting more time into Terraria than expected, especially considering I’ve been playing it on/off since about 2 weeks after release on XBLA; definitely looking forward to the V1.2 update coming in near future.

I posted before about Double Fine’s Kickstarter funded adventure game, Broken Age, which I backed and am more than pleased with the developer vids showing and explaining the process of the game’s development, and look forward to playing it.

Now I’m posting about another Double Fine Kickstarter project titled Massive Chalice. This is a game that is so in my wheel-house that I backed it at a higher tier than I did for Broken Age. Rather than bore you with details, the Double Fine team put out a funny and informative video explaining what Massive Chalice is along with a lot of extra details.

What is really cool about this is that I found out about it via GiantBomb, like many things, and the article was posted at about 3:30pm PST at which point it had just over $300,000 of the $725,000 goal. When I backed it roughly 10 minutes ago it had already hit $385,000; that’s 85k in under 4 hours!

I encourage anyone and everyone to back this project! Let’s escape from the age where everyone makes the same copy&pasta shooters (like what FUSE became) and back new and creative titles like the one’s coming from Double Fine.


Metacritic Matters: How Review Scores Hurt Video Games by Jason Schreier @ Kotaku.

I posted something about Metacritic back around the release of Dragon Age 2 and have often been vocal about my despise for Metacritic and using review scores for videogames in general; as well as anything of an entertainment purpose like movies and books. The above article by Jason Schreier is a really nice cover of what’s wrong with Metacritic and has some big voices from the industry chiming in on the topic.

This is a must read for anyone who uses or has ever used Metacritic or wants to be more aware of the problems in the gaming industry resulting from Metacritic.



A very teasy teaser trailer was released for Broken Age, the KickStarter funded old-school point-and-click adventure game, by the awesome guys at DoubleFine. I’m absolutely in love with the art style (classic DoubleFine designs) and if the music is any indication of the rest of the game, it sounds wonderful.

From the DoubleFine PAX East 2013 panel we got a little bit of the story behind the game, thanks to the ever reliable GiantBomb wiki for Broken Age:

    “As described, the title “Broken Age” is supposed to invoke a sense of what occurs during the game. The game will focus on two parallel stories of children, a boy and a girl, who yearn to break free from the banalities of their everyday lives and follows the pair as they attempt to alter their fates. The boy lives a solitary life under the care of a motherly computer, but wishes to break free, while the girl has been chosen as sacrifice to a terrible sea monster by her own village and decides to fight back.”

I’ve never actually been a huge fan of point-and-click adventure games. I never played the Monkey Island series or the older LucasArts titles that many of those at DoubleFine pull experience/inspiration from and I haven’t really had much interest in them. The only one I can recall ever putting any time into was Machinarium which I mostly played because I was very fond of the art style and of the world; also some of the puzzles were pretty good.

Since I don’t have a lot of the baggage that many who want this game, and possibly who funded it, I don’t have specific expectations or really anything to say about it [this trailer] except that I’m very excited. While I’ve been a backer on this project I haven’t taken advantage of the numerous vidocs and news/updates that the team has been sending out (they’re just piling up in my inbox), but now that I’ve seen a little bit of it I think it’s about time I watched them.

Keep it up guys, I have faith it will be amazing.

Broken Age Teaser Trailer


Just the other day I posted some stuff about PAX East and amongst the gems I posted about something I’ve been fond of for quite some time: Cards Against Humanity. Now, I don’t actually remember how I came about the following, but somehow I found myself reading through the pages of Max Temkin’s website/blog/tumblr; Max is one of the guys responsible for Cards Against Humanity. First off, he’s not just some twisted short guy, he’s actually pretty brilliant. Reading through a variety of his articles and posts it’s easy to see he’s an intelligent, well spoken, twisted short guy with a philosophy degree who also happens to be a good designer. He also has some weird fetish with party games about being and doing horrible things.

On his blog/tumblr I saw something called Werewolf (above) and when I clicking on that image I was taken to another page titled Werewolf where I learned just what it is:

    Werewolf is a simple game for a large group of people (seven or more.) It requires no equipment besides some bits of paper; you can play it just sitting in a circle. I’d call it a party game, except that it’s a game of accusations, lying, bluffing, second-guessing, assassination, and mob hysteria.” – Andrew Plotkin

This sounds like a number of game theory exercises I’ve done, but never with a group as large as this game was intended to be played by. That page very clearly and cleanly details the rules, intentions, and some strategies behind the design of the game and that it’s the psychology that makes it interesting. This is a game that can be played simply by writing words on pieces of paper and handed out as you determine and decide how many of what you need based on how many are playing.

I would go ahead and lay out the rules but anything I try to write would be an insult to the carefully crafted, and lengthy, page(s) Max has written for it. If anything you’ve read thus far has piqued your curiosity stop reading this (after you click the like button perhaps) and read through what Werewolf is all about.

Before you click on that link and as you start reading you’ll notice that there’s a Kickstarter for Werewolf too. After reading the explanation and some of the nuances of the game I knew I could play this with just scraps of paper, but the idea of funding another Kickstarter and getting the word out about games like this is worth the $10 to back it. Now I can add Werewolf to my list of Kickstarter backed projects, second to the Double Fine Adventure

I really wish I knew more people so I could play games like this and Cards Against Humanity on a much more frequent basis.

EDIT: I forgot to include this link, which I think is somewhere in one of Max’s posts about strategies, about Werewolf from Jane McGonigal at the Avant Game blog. She talks about the game, the community, strategies, and the nuances of Werewolf. It’s a really fun read if you’re interested in the game. I certainly enjoyed it.

Lastly, I think I’m going to put aside my preferential treatment for videogame journalism and just start talking about whatever the hell I want. Video games, card games, Werewolves, my friend’s band, maker stuff, tech… ALL FAIR GAME NOW PEOPLE!

though probably mostly still about videogames


PAX East has come to an end and while I did not attend I was able to see some livestreams of panels and videos and articles from a number of game news outlets that caught my attention. There weren’t many new things but the stuff that was talked about and/or shown were personally some of the most amazing bits of news I’ve heard in a while. I was really psyched to see these and will no doubt be talking about these more in the future: Transistor, Dungeon Defenders 2, Sanctum 2, and Cards Against Humanity. Also, Mass Effect 3 statistics.


Transistor

click for wallpaper

At the top of the list of amazing things that give me joy is the second game from SuperGiantGames: Transistor. Bastion will forever hold a special place in my memory for having more heart and soul than most games out there; not to mention some of the best voice and music work I’ve ever heard. I still listen to the Bastion OST pretty regularly even though I’ve not touched it in a while.

The team at SuperGiant has revealed Transistor with the same gorgeous art style and what sounds like the beginning of another perfect soundtrack; by the same amazing people. I also really like the almost turn-based nature of the combat since Bastion‘s weakest aspect was how clunky it could feel at times; perhaps this change in how combat is executed will remove those issues. Also very noteworthy is that Logan Cunningham is returning as another sort of narrator character with a similarly epic voice which makes me think the narration will again be a very strong element.

Here’s a few vids: Reveal trailer (with another song by Darren Korb & Ashley Lynn Barrett), about 15 minutes of (very early) gameplay footage and an additional link with commentary from Greg Kasavin (over the same gameplay segment), and the last one being my favorite Bastion song.

Transistor Reveal Trailer

Transistor Gameplay (without commentary)

You can watch the same Transistor Gameplay with commentary by Greg Kasavin here.

Build a Wall from Bastion (performed live by Darren Korb and Ashley Lynn Barrett)

Dungeon Defenders II

The second announcement that made me happy was Trendy Entertainment‘s reveal of Dungeon Defenders 2; though very much expected to happen at some point I wasn’t expecting it so soon. I had a lot of fun with Dungeon Defenders when it first came out but only knew 1 other person that played it so after hitting the level cap we didn’t really get much more out of it. A lot of the DLC made for the game was PC/Steam only and that was a huge shame since it looked like some of the absolute best stuff: many new characters/classes, hundreds of weapons/armor/pets added, new levels/environments by the droves, special themed armor/skins/levels/taverns, and an entire pvp arena. This game was absolutely made for DLC and it’s a shame that Microsoft imposes so many restrictions about DLC and patches and stuff. I still want to get a new PC so I can play these great games that receive so much more attention (i.e.: content updates) than their console counterparts; my fan is still broken on my tower and I haven’t touched it in maybe 2 months now.

Trendy is insanely involved with the community as their website for Dungeon Defenders has an overwhelming amount of commentary and projects and such that is frequently updated and it shows just how much the team loves what they were making. Even without the crazy long series of posts and ramblings, this trailer shows that they love what they’re doing. I’m very interested to see more Dungeon Defenders and I hope I have a new PC by the time this is out so I can get in on all the cool DLCs and mods.

This time around, Dungeon Defenders 2 is getting a MOBA game type in addition to the single-player and co-op elements where you’ll be able to go up against friends and other players in a competitive multi-player setting (like the ever popular League of Legends)

Dungeon Defenders II – Cooperative Reveal (Pre-Alpha Footage)

Sanctum 2

I don’t know if Sanctum was really a huge hit on Steam, it seemed more like it was one of those gems that most people missed. Granted I haven’t played it since shortly after I wrote my review and I don’t know what changes/additions have been made, but I never heard or read about it blowing up into something huge. That said, I’m glad it’s getting a sequel. I had a lot of fun with Sanctum and thought it was a unique game that did well in the various genres it was melding together.

The most exciting thing about this announcement is that it’s going to be available on XBLA (and PSN). My only concern with this is the same one I just voiced for Dungeon Defenders 2; that it might not ever get some of the patches or DLC that the PC/Steam version gets. I hope that with this next generation of consoles they take a few more notes from Steam and allow developers/publishers more control over their respective titles so the can push out content (and maybe even community mods) to the console players. Until such a thing happens, PC will be the way to go for a number of titles.

Sanctum 2 will have the same very clean and high-tech visual aesthetics and path management that made the Sanctum stand out over the many other tower-defense titles. They’re making a number of changes to the game that make me very happy including new classes and weapons, but the best change made is a fully developed agro system that allows you to pull enemies from their path rather than just slowing them down. This will allow for more tactical use of the characters as well as give us a reason to use the new class types. The new classes also come with a new persistent leveling system and perks (probably related to the individual classes) which should also make multiplayer much more attractive; with the inclusion of XBLA and PSN I bet co-op will be a lot more fun too.

Below is the Sanctum 2 official reveal and a short commentary from some the Dev and some dude at IGN (I don’t like them either but they’re the only ones with a good video with gameplay).

Sanctum 2 Reveal Trailer

Sanctum 2 Developer Interview

Cards Against Humanity

It’s weird to think that I’ve never talked about Cards Against Humanity, a party game for horrible people, before. I guess since it isn’t a videogame, movie, or novel it isn’t something I’d typically associate with my Ramblings, but it’s about damn time that I do! I feel it’s my duty to do so. Like many out there in the gaming world, I’m a fan (and subscriber) of GiantBomb and on several hilarious occasions, sometimes with super awesome guests, they’ve played this card game. When I first saw them play it I proceeded to laugh so much I (maybe kinda) pissed myself then placed my order. Since then I’ve got the original game deck and the 2 expansions and unfortunately I’ve only been able to play it 3 times with a good group of peoples; I say unfortunately partly because now they know just how sick and twisted I am, but mostly because I wish I could play this on a weekly basis with a whole bunch of people.

For those not in the know, Cards Against Humanity is a vulgar, adult oriented party game. Here are the rules as handed down by the gods: “To start the game, each player draws ten white “answer” cards. One randomly chosen player begins as the Card Czar, and plays a black “question” card. The Card Czar reads the question out to the group. Each player answers the question by passing one white “answer” card, face down, to the Card Czar. The Card Czar shuffles all of the answers, reads them out loud in a humorous fashion, and picks their favorite. Whoever played that answer gets to keep the Black Card as one Awesome Point. After each round, a new player becomes the Card Czar, and every player draws back up to ten cards.”

The goal is to get X number of Black cards as points also determined by the group/rules you choose. I found it best to keep the black points to roughly 5-6 because the games can last a long time if you have a fucked up or clever group playing.

The team behind Cards Against Humanity have just released the 3rd expansion and I’ve already placed my order. While this is cool and all, what I really want is to hear about the Cards Against Humanity + GiantBomb special expansion collaboration extravaganza. It’s been a while since they announced it and I know Ryan (and Jeff?) was (were?) at the CAH panel at PAX the other night so maybe something was said there; we might not know everything since last I checked it wasn’t recorded, but I’ll keep an eye out.

Mass Effect 3

We’ve already said goodbye to Shepard and the first Mass Effect Trilogy, but the team at Bioware behind the sci-fi RPG series put out some interesting statistics about the decisions made across all ME3 playthroughs in their Mass Effect Retrospective panel at PAX.

Here’s what they showed:

So I’m in the 4% that beat it ME3 on Insanity, the 8% that didn’t cure the genophage, the 36% that saved both the Quarians and Geth, the 3.8% that Shot Mordin (ONLY ONCE! I saved him the other 2 playthroughs); but I’m not even on the list for the squad members because I used Javik every mission in my 2nd playthrough (of 3) which puts him at what? 50% for that playthrough and something like 16% between all of them and I used James + Garrus or Kaiden exclusively on my Insanity playthrough so I’m part of that 1.5% too.

Interesting statistics, funny to see that the decisions I made in almost every playthrough aren’t always the dominant choice made. Hope to see more stuff like this; perhaps the panel will be put up in its entirety at some point here’s the whole hour-long panel!

PAX East 2013 Mass Effect Retrospective Panel

It’s been a while since I’ve done a newsworthy like this, usually only happens after events/expos, but it was nice. The next big show is E3 in June and between now and then I don’t think there are many titles other than Bioshock Infinite, which I’ll be picking up at midnight tonight (but wont be playing til Thursday night cause of school), so I hope to work on some more backlog games/reviews. I’m still sitting on my XCOM:EU stuff and I’ll probably write something for Dragon’s Dogma again and I finished reading a few books I’d like to write something for as soon as I find the time.

Until next time.


Pid Review

13Mar13

This is long overdue so I’ll get right to it.

Pid

I’ve mentioned in a number of my reviews that certain elements immediately draw my attention. This is usually a reference to a certain visual aesthetic I find very attractive for one reason or another. This doesn’t mean it needs to have an insane polygon count and hyper-sexualized females, it just needs to be something that makes me go “I want to play that.” When it came to seeing Pid‘s world premiere trailer live on GiantBomb the first thing that tickled my senses was the music. I instantly fell in love with Pid when I heard the guitar and piano kick in. Soon to follow was a very charming and simple visual design of muted colors, reminiscent of pastels or water-colors, that lent itself well to a chill and relaxed theme that is pervasive throughout the game. I actually find it almost sadistic because the game can be quite challenging/frustrating at times.

Pid is about Kurt, a young space-school kid who happened to fall asleep on the space-bus on his way home and ended up reaching the end of the road: a strange planet where everyone seems to be waiting for something. Kurt’s journey will have him traversing a number of different areas with the goal of finding a way to get home. You’ll soon discover that things are not so good on this planet and an unusual corruption, noted by different colored NPCs/enemies, has spread to its inhabitants and that the planet is in a state of political turmoil. As Kurt makes his way to the end to find his way home there are a few rather touching story sequences and a nice reveal about just who is helping and why everything went so horribly wrong in what was once a peaceful, happy world.

Not too far along in your side-scrolling journey you find your way into a vault with an amazing power locked inside: glowing beams of light. This power is what allows Kurt to make his way through the dangers of this planet and find his way home. Pid is a puzzle/platformer that revolves around what can best be described as gravity puzzles. These beams of light that Kurt can use are gravity beams that will lift or propel Kurt, items and some foes, along their respective paths. You can have 2 placed at a time and by throwing a 3rd down you’ll overwrite the 1st and so on; they also last a limited amount of time.

The majority of the time you’ll be making your way through the levels you’ll need to avoid being seen. There are cameras and humanoid enemies that have sight and it’s game over should you be seen. Depending on the color of the enemy, as I hinted before, you’ll have to take different approaches. The NPCs you’ll be interacting with for story beats are going to be Yellow, they’re friendlies and victims of the war going on in the world. Those that have been corrupted will be either Blue or Red and this will dictate how to best approach them. Blue enemies will not be effected by the beams Kurt can place, similarly beams cannot be placed on blue surfaces. Red enemies can be carried away under the beams’ power and also can be temporarily removed from the field by closing a beam with a red enemy in it; they’ll reappear shortly after closing the beam but it’s more than enough time for Kurt to make his way past.

When not going up against enemies with sight it plays out like any traditional game, where hitting an enemy results in damage, and just like with being spotted it usually results in death. This might sound harsh, but everything in the game will take Kurt out in 1 hit without body armor items. This encourages safe play, good planning, and quick reflexes in order to find the best path through a level.

Though the beams alone will allow you to get through most of the game, Kurt will come upon a number of very helpful items to let him deal with enemies and get gain access to secret areas such as: body armor, bombs, lasers, explosive beams, and more. Along the way you’ll have collected some amount of stars which act as the game’s currency should you choose to purchase items you’ve run out of. Save for boss fights or accessing hidden areas these items aren’t necessary to use. However those planning a speed run will find them to be essential. You’ll also get a slingshot that changes the way Kurt deploys his gravity beams. Normally he throws them a few feet ahead and this can be done anywhere at any time, but the slingshot allows Kurt to very precisely, and at great distance, shoot a beam anywhere in line-of-sight when standing still.

Occasionally while playing Pid I got a sort of SuperMeatBoy vibe because there is a decent amount of trial and error involved; also the whole instant-death thing (for the most part). Most levels are broken up into small scenes with frequent checkpoints but play out very linearly. I mentioned before that for the most part, everything is a 1-hit kill. So finding the best path, where the beams should go, how to deal with or avoid enemies, etc. is necessary. This also makes for some incredibly satisfying sequences where you’ll run through an entire area barely ever touching the ground, just floating from beam to beam dropping bombs with such fluidity of movement that you wish you had recorded it. This is most apparent in two of the boss-fights where you’ll just run and use beams to navigate your way through a relatively confined space while being chased by something Indiana Jones style. These were my absolute favorite sequences because when you got it right, it was beautiful.

There are a number of areas and sequences throughout the game that require that same level of dexterity and timing that will become second nature once you get the hang of how far a toss goes, how certain enemies behave, and how close to the ground you can drop a beam while falling without hitting the spikes. Though simple to learn the various mechanics and tactics available in Pid they are difficult to master. It will take about 8-10 hours to complete on your first playthrough as you learn the mechanics and solve your way through the environmental puzzles. After beating it once you’ll unlock Hard mode which changes things up a bit and most definitely increases the challenge.

Pid‘s strongest element is its tone. The game is very relaxed, save for the moments of extreme frustration when you miss a beam or a jump for the 30th time, supported by great jazz music, charming designs, and a beautiful color palette. That isn’t to say that the puzzles aren’t challenging, I only mean to say that the most impressive features of the game are the sights and sounds. The levels are designed rather well with a variety of themes as you progress, from the backstage of an opera house and underground mazes to skyscrapers and the moon. However within each level you’ll run into a lot of familiar enemies and obstacles with the introduction of new elements coming to a startling halt not too far into the game.

My only real complaint for Pid is that the gameplay really doesn’t vary as much as I’d have liked. The items aren’t necessary beyond very specific instances and the puzzle variations are limited. The most inventive sequences are definitely the sparsely placed boss fights but elsewhere inspiration seems to be lacking. You’ll quickly experience all the puzzle elements that will be encountered throughout the game and when some new feature gets added it either is completely forgotten about afterwards or it just becomes a constant thing. There are never any twists added to the beam itself, other than the slingshot, that I feel was a missed opportunity to expand the puzzle elements. In some of the later levels you’ll encounter pipes that reverse the flow of the beams and they disappear just as fast as you were introduced to them. Simply giving this power to the beam via some alternate fire might have been very interesting to change up the mechanics.

I never tried my hand at the co-op and quite frankly I think it’s a horrible idea. The amount of precision timing for many sequences throughout the game do not lend themselves well to be coordinated by multiple people. What I would have liked to see instead of a co-op would have been a level editor. Being able to make levels like the two boss encounters where you’re moving fast with well-timed beam placement to get up/over/through obstacles would have extended my playtime by a significant amount.

I’ve replayed Pid partially and realized that I didn’t want to replay it for the puzzles so much as experience the story and the music and get myself dug deep into the wonderful atmosphere. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary or set any new benchmarks, but for the price it’s a fine game that most people will have a good time with.




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