Available on: Nintendo Switch and PS4
Developer: Henchman & Goon
Publisher: Henchman & Goon
Genre: Co-operative Puzzle
Official Site: https://www.podegame.com
Release Date: Nintendo Switch: June 21, 2018 PS4: February 19, 2019
The story of Pode involves a fallen star (Glo) and a rock (Bulder) helping Glo helping to find the way home. It’s a fun and charming little indie game that never felt dull or monotonous.
The art style of Pode is breathtaking without being overly crisp. In fact, the art style is quite simple, but it works for this game and works well. The art style is actually based on Norwegian art and culture. While I am not familiar with the art of Norway, I can tell you the art style is incredible and proves that simple graphics can be aesthetically pleasing.
Truth be told, the art style is one of the two elements of the game that sold me initially. The other was the puzzles, but we’ll get to that later. At first glance, I fell in love with the art style before I even fully understood the game’s concept. I’m glad this sold me because the visuals never disappointed.
While it isn’t required to progress through the game, I got immense joy watching each dull and lifeless room turn vivid and colorful. In each section, you can use both Glo and Bulder to influence the environment around them. This mechanic never felt daunting or underwhelming.
What’s a puzzle game without music? In any puzzle game, you play the music has the task of helping you focus while being distracting. A delicate balance to be sure, and the music of Pode achieves this effortlessly.
While I never just put the controller down and listened to the music, it still was part of the overall greatness. That said, I may have looked to see if the soundtrack was on Spotify so I could just listen to it. I am happy to report that the score, composed by Austin Wintory is available to listen to.
Pode has only two characters Glo and Bulder. For two characters who have no spoken dialogue, they are incredibly emotional and realistic in their feelings. The two communicate exclusively through sounds and facial expressions.
The effort and care that went into these two characters and their relationship with each other astounded me. Glo only has a high pitched chirp and Bulder a lower grumble. Based on the context of each scene you are able to imagine what the two would be saying if they could speak.
Meeting certain conditions grants the player a comic showing the friendship building between them.
The objective of the game is to progress to the top of Mount Fjellheim. The only way to get to the top is to progress through each room. Getting out of each room requires you to solve the puzzle that is the room. In other words, it’s not as simple as walking from the entrance to the exit.
Each room in Pode is a puzzle. Some rooms were more difficult than others. I found most of the rooms the right amount of difficulty. Only one room confused me to no end. In the end, the solution was staring me in the face. Which brings me to my next point.
Do not take anything for granted in Pode. There were several times while I was figuring out what to do and something that seemed like part of the background was necessary to solve the problem and progress. Any time I encountered this issue I felt silly for not realizing it was necessary. To me, this is the mark of good design as it’s not so easy as to spell out the solution out for you, but not so hard that the resolution is obscure.
Sure the puzzles are fine, but how is the gameplay? Now to be honest with you I only have one PS4 controller so my experiences are only single player. At first, I wasn’t sure if a game meant to be co-op played well as a single player. You’ll be happy to know that it works just fine, albeit a little slower than co-op.
In Pode, you can seamlessly switch back and forth between the two characters with ease. In fact, this mechanism is required to progress through the game. Glo is a star and as such is lightweight and can float, but can’t get through wind or waterfalls. Bulder, on the other hand, is a rock and can get through wind and waterfalls but can’t jump high or far.
To master Pode requires a mastery of both the characters. To master both of the characters also requires figuring out the ways in which they work together. While this can be done quickly in co-op, it works perfectly fine in single player mode. It just takes a little longer to complete.
Whether you’re playing solo or with a friend, Pode is guaranteed to be enjoyable. I bet it will make you smile in ways you didn’t know a video game could. The end of the game left me with a big smile from ear to ear. Upon finishing the final credits I said it’s a wonderful game out loud. A feat very few games achieve.
Verdict: Pode is a wonderful indie game that I wish I knew about sooner. Even though I played by myself I never felt displeased with the game and enjoyed every minute. If you’re into indie and/or puzzle games I can’t recommend this gem enough. You will have a wonderful time.
- Art style
- Puzzles just right
- Game feels wholesome
- Single Player can take longer than co-op