Pid-Review Pid Review

   02/11/2012 at 12:24       ALex Vaughan       0 COMMENTS. - Score 2/5
 - Pid, Might and Delight, Platformer, Puzzle, Frustration

Right, Pid. Before we go any further, go and watch the trailer at the bottom of the page. Some of it anyway.

Go on watch it, I’ll wait.

Done? That looks fun yeah? An interesting cross between Limbo, a bit of n+, splosion man kinda vibe. We’ve no shortage of great platformers on XBLA, and this looks like another one to put on the pile. It would be as well, if the developers had decided not to fill it with endless moments of complete hair tearing bloody frustration every five damn minutes. I’m actually quite angry at this game, it could really be something special, something great, but it’s mired with really crap moments that just make you want to quit and stop playing. It’s a currant cake, a sublime currant cake with a few of them dotted about inside, but where the currants are actually made of shit.

Anyway let’s start over.

Pid is set on a strange foreign planet where you play a young boy who fell asleep on his school bus, which flew into outer space, and stranded him there. I know that makes no sense at all, but stay with me. The transport system on the planet has stopped, and there is no way off. This seems to have driven every inhabitant insane, and they all sit there in a melancholic way as they try to help guide you to the ‘city’ to freedom, as public transport still exists over there. The atmosphere it creates is good and quite unique and it certainly perks the interest. To get to the city you’ve got to go through an old and ancient castle, which is where the game takes place. Through underground cave systems, dining rooms, and the attic, you jump and float yourself through various platforms, traps and enemies. So far, so platformer.

The games novelty factor comes with the two beams of light you use which propel you around the environment. It’s easier to explain firstly if you watched the trailer like I asked, and secondly if you’ve played Portal 2. You know those blue light tunnels that push you around, in the air, across a field of spikes etc, it’s exactly like that but you can place them at any point/location in the environment and carve your own path through rather than using a pre-determined one. This is fine and can be quite fun to get yourself about, but it’s so severely hampered by the execution it results in frustration more than anything else.

You can’t pinpoint where they are placed, and instead throw a limp star to the position you want the tunnel. This is precise enough in the early stages, but as things get complex especially as you try to reach the more tricky secret areas, you will struggle to get placement where you need it. This results in endless repositioning or more likely death as these areas are fraught with traps, and could not be more frustrating because of it. 
The majority of this frustration comes from when you die, as the check pointing in this game is beyond awful. If you head straight and directly for the exit, then it does its job and resets you cleanly at the beginning of each of the areas you’re trying to manage. However, the game is filled with hidden secrets, stars to collect (which act as the games currency and allow you to buy extra lives, and other helpful items from dispensers along the way), items to scavenge and encourages you constantly off the beaten track to explore and find them. These areas are often difficult to get to, and harder to get out of safely. If you do manage to get through, collect your secrets, and get back to safety then well done you. Unless you die in the next section, where the game will respawn you back before you even managed the hard won secret and you have to do it all over again. And again. And again. The fun of exploration is absolutely killed by this simple oversight, and soon makes you stop bothering.

This is a difficult game and you will die a lot. It’s one shot one kill on your character and even brushing against the enemy will result in insta-death. You can obtain a second chance ‘shield’ in the game, but the safety time between using that and dying is so small you often just die anyway before you can escape danger. Difficult platformers like the wonderful Super Meat Boy or Splosion Man work because while yes you have to restart over and over, the whole game is about that mechanic. They are stupid and fun where death is an enjoyable and more importantly a fun aspect of the gameplay.

Pid makes death frustrating and not fun at all; it is slower paced and due to the hampered placement of your Portal-like beams requires more consideration and thought than its failure loving brothers. Meaning that once you do navigate yourself through an area, only to die stupidly and be reset with no collected items or anything actually saved for the 10th time, you don’t bother trying again. It didn’t take long until I stopped bothering exploring as I was being punished for it so much, and the game simply became more of a chore than fun to play. The first major boss fight almost made me stop playing entirely; I won’t even ruin this one, anyone who makes it this far and doesn’t want to give up and stop playing leave a comment below I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts. Your crazed, angry, insanity driven thoughts.

All of this is such a shame, as Pid has so much charm in its execution and enough fresh ideas that it can be a blast to play. The enemy and character design is great and the music is absolutely wonderful, but graphically while it looks nice enough it in itself is fraught with almost constant tearing and juddering (on 360 anyway) which will put some of you off immediately. It’s like a colourful Limbo in its style, bringing its own character and makes the world feel real and alive. It should be a fun and exciting place to explore, when it works it’s a brilliant and somewhat relaxing platformer which in the early levels I was feeling very good things indeed. It’s such a shame it gets absolutely ruined by the awful check pointing if you do decide to explore as the game so wants you to do, that playing simply stops being fun. All the good ideas in the world can’t save you if you’re not actually fun to play. I want to love this so much, I want it to be as fun an exciting as the video I showed you at the top, and to be ruined by the simplest of things is unforgivable. It’s a 4/5 for the first hour or so, but with a heavy heart I can only give this a disappointing sigh.

Stars
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