Pid is a game that’s perplexed me since I downloaded it in early December. It’s a simple game, but with layers of complexity that make it a great challenge for many gamers. At the same time, it’s these layers of complexity that add to the absolute frustration that this game provides.
As a puzzle-platformer, Pid certainly has given me and many other gamers many hours of enjoyment mixed with frustration.
Pid (short for Planet in Distress) was released by independent developer Might and Delight back on October 31st of last year. Thanks to Might and Delight, I was able to get my hands on a copy of this game in early December… and have been befuddled by it ever since.
Pid tells the story of Kurt, who while travelling on the bus, fell asleep and ended up on a bizarre planet. Having no easy way to return home, since the bus doesn’t do return trips, Kurt begins his trek to the big city to find a new way to get home.
Puzzle elements in this game are covered by a unique item that allows Kurt to create up to two columns of light, each with the ability to distort gravity from a certain point. These columns can be manipulated by throwing them at walls or slanted surfaces, allowing Kurt and the player to navigate the many different areas of this world’s labyrinth.
I’ve delayed writing this review for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it was the Christmas season, making it tough to sit down and give a game like this my full attention. For another, I found myself stuck on a number of the game’s later puzzles as I tried to make my through the game and wanted to make sure I had more of a grasp of the game’s subject matter before I discussed Pid on GameNTrain.
To say that Pid is deserving of recognition would be an understatement. I even included Pid as one of my Top Games of 2012 on GameNTrain at the end of December. At that time, I was still knee-deep on some of the more difficult puzzles I had come across in the game and knew there were much worse puzzles waiting for me as the game progressed.
The level of frustration I experienced playing this game reminded me of games like The Lost Vikings. Most of the time, you think of frustration as a bad thing; that something must be wrong with the fundamental elements of game design for this game to give you this much of a headache.
This is not the case with Pid. As I died for the 14th time fighting the game’s first boss (yes, I counted how many times I died fighting that thing), I realized that this is a level of difficulty that is absent in most games nowadays, as we live in an era of instant rewards and save-states. Back in the days of classics like Super Mario Bros and Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link, you got beaten down time and time again just by simply mistiming a jump. Pid works beautifully at recreating that type of difficulty, where a single hit will kill you and force you to take on that puzzle all over again.
At the same time, this can be a bit of a pain. I have stopped playing this game for days at a time due to the absurd level of difficulty present. Like I just mentioned, I died 14 times on the game’s FIRST BOSS. The first boss in most games is typically a larger version of a regular mook. In this case, it’s a large flying robotic butler that fires heat-seeking rockets towards the end of the fight. And you can only take one hit unless you’ve picked up a certain item. Think about some of the bosses you see in Super Meat Boy and you get the idea of the level of difficulty present here.
Most gamers that come across this would be instantly put off. You’ve basically created a difficulty gate that only the elite gamers can go through. Beginner level gamers will simply feel discouraged and not come back. This can make it tough to enjoy a game that is otherwise on par with classic puzzle games like Kickle Cubicle from the NES or Oddworld and Lemmings.
Another aspect that can be a bit of a turn-off for this game is its artistic style. I’m all for unique and innovative approaches to presenting your game to a mass audience. Games like Ico and Journey bucked the trend of popular games of their time and were blockbusters because of it.
It’s kind of weird.
The villains and populace in this game look like something out of a bizarre foreign cartoon. As for the main character, Kurt, he’s a simple little boy with a backpack dressed in blue. That’s about it. It’s artistic, it’s unique, but it’s also very strange and would not catch the attention of most gamers used to playing games like God of War or Halo or Mass Effect. Hell, even if you were used to playing games like Little Big Planet, this might not be the game for you.
Also, if you have a smaller TV, this will be a difficult game to play. The font size of much of the game’s spoken text is pretty small, leaving me squinting while using a 32 inch TV. Many of the enemies and characters are a minimal size as well, which can be difficult to negotiate unless you are using a big screen TV or something similar.
In any case, for people looking for a great puzzle game that will challenge them more than the Sudoku in their daily newspaper, this will be the game to download. However, for people looking to unwind after a tough day of work, school or what have you, Pid may be the game that will make you throw your controller through a window.
Overall, I give Pid a 3/5. While I did enjoy the simple elements of the game and the difficulty present, I also found that the difficulty and the odd and weird design elements of this game would be a huge deterrent for many gamers.
Still, for the relatively small cost to purchase this game online, you may as well give Pid a go. At the very least, you will get a few night’s enjoyment out of Kurt’s adventure. Just be sure to take frustration breaks every now and then.