Quirky 2D platformers are not the freshest flavor of downloadable games, but they are far from stale. Developers Might and Delight (made from members of the company responsible for Capcom’s Bionic Commando Rearmed) are self-publishing a ‘retro-flavored adventure game’ coming later in 2012 named simply, Pid.
Does Pid stand for “planet in distress” or “perilous interglactic destination”? It doesn’t actually stand for anything but that doesn’t mean this game has no point. You play the game as a young boy that gets stranded on a remote planet covered in malicious robots. With the help of some unlikely allies you will begin to shed light on a huge conspiracy that for some reason is preventing you from going home.
The main character is just a normal boy. He can’t jump very far or run very fast. If he takes a missle to the face or falls in a bed of spikes, he isn’t walking away from that. Luckily, early on he gains the ability to manipulate a powerful force with a slingshot. Firing against a surface creates a ‘gravity pillar’ that will push the player in a direction away from the point of impact. This can be fired at the ground to float to new heights or fired at a wall to help you cross a wide gap. As you go on you will need to also learn to use them to deflect bullets, move heavy objects, or activate machinery.
This puzzle platformer was designed to have a retro feel and a retro challenge. While you do have infinite lives and the checkpoints are mostly forgiving, you will still have to really test your brain as well as your reflexes to move forward. Instant death is all around you but never feels cheap.
The graphics were originally developed by laying out paper cut outs and a bit of that aesthetic survived in the final design. Everything seems to be made out of a collection of simple shapes, but have a depth and weight to them. There is dynamic lighting and shadows. The background is alive with mechanical activity full of gears and robots moving objects around. It is not at all distracting, rather it helps to make the world feel alive.
2 player local co-op will also be available when the game launches. While you have unlimited ‘gravity wells’ in single player co-op mode limits how many you can make, so you will have to truly cooperate in order to safely make it through the levels. Even though cooperation is a must, there will still be plenty of room to compete againt your friends to collect the various stars found through each level. I can tell that this is exactly the kind of game that will be made all the more special if you experience it with a friend.
I played this preview on the Xbox 360, but it is also set to be released for PC and the PS3 later this year. It controls well with the standard controller aiming your shots with the second stick and firing with the trigger. All in all it is shaping up to join the ranks of Braid and Limbo as thoughtful and intriguing puzzle platformers that know how to both tell a good story and look unique doing it. My 30 minutes with the game was far from enough. I’ll have to wait till later this year to journey back into the dark world of Pid and get that kid and his slingshot home.