‘Pid’ Review – Beautiful But Flawed

Pid Review
Pid Review

(Editor’s Note: Just hours after my review was posted, Might & Delight announced they have re-edited all of the levels in the game to make way for a new casual mode.  My review of Pid is based on my experiences before the difficulty adjustments. I will spend a few hours playing with the new update, and if I feel that the changes alter my opinion enough to warrant a score change, it will be reflected in another update. Please keep that in mind as you read. Thanks. -Tom)

Pid is an interesting game. Stylistically, Pid is one of the best games I’ve seen come out this year, everything about the game’s visual style is beautiful. Unfortunately, that glamor can only pull so much of the dead weight that comes with the frustration that the gameplay brings.

Might & Delight developed and released Pid, their first game, a little over a month ago. Might & Delight is a development team, founded in 2010, composed of both industry veterans and independent developers.  The team developed Pid for the Xbox 360, PC, and Mac. A PlayStation 3 version is planned, but no official release date has been announced yet.

Pid puts players in the shoes of schoolboy, Kurt. On his way home from school, Kurt finds himself teleported to another planet. Everything seems very Earth-like, until Kurt approaches the first town, and finds robots sitting on the bus bench. They are all bearded (robots on this planet sport hair) and weary, having sat there for decades, waiting for the next bus to show up. At once, it becomes immediately apparent that Kurt won’t be able to simply catch a ride back to earth. So, ever the optimist, Kurt sets off to figure out how to get home, and thus the story begins.

Shortly after encountering the bearded robots, Kurt comes into possession of a special gem that allows him to lay down a gravity-beam that levitates most anything, including Kurt. Pid holds your hand for awhile, as you get used to how you can use the gem to levitate yourself up into the air, and propel yourself sideways from walls when you throw the gem at a vertical structure.

Floating around is fun for a few minutes, but the novelty quickly wears off, as the first portion of the game seems to drag on. I was getting bored with the game, literally fifteen minutes into it. I gave the game the benefit of the doubt though, figuring it was catering to players who may not play that many games. Which is perfectly fine, and in fact, I encourage things like that.

Pid Screenshot

But, then, there would be portions of Pid that are just flat-out challenging. There is no build up to these difficult areas, they are just suddenly there…like a spider-leg in a candy bar. To make things even worse, Pid never felt rewarding to me. When I would get through one particularly challenging room, it was simply time to move onto the next. There was no special ability to be found, or anything of the sort…it was all part of the level flow.

You will die a lot while trying to tackle these challenging puzzles, but to Pid’s credit, respawning is instant, and you never respawn very far back from where you died. Boss fights, on the other hand, are not so casually forgiving.

The “Baloon-boy” boss fight was incredibly frustrating because it was all about luck, rather than skill. To defeat the boss, the player had to bounce through the air, over the boss and hit the top of his head with bombs. There were two bumpers that would periodically appear whenever the boss was stunned, which allowed the player to easily bounce back-and-forth over the boss. However, if you were in mid-air when the boss awoke, the bumpers would vanish and you would blindly fall back down to ground level, where you may or may not land on an enemy, and instantly die. On top of the “bad luck” deaths, there were moments where the boss would shoot bullets that sped left and right across the screen, there were a few times where the bullets were impossible to dodge, and I was killed. It just was not a fun experience.

Pid Screenshot

There are “souvenirs” to collect scattered throughout every level, but as far as I could tell, collecting them did not affect gameplay at all…so I never even bothered to go out of my way to find them. If you do fancy collecting all-the-things, then you will be able to pull some extra time out of Pid as you go back and attempt to find all the hidden rooms and souvenirs. As you can see in the screen shots, there are stars scattered throughout the levels. You collect these stars, which are usually directly in your path anyway, and use them as currency to buy extra equipment and the like.

The story plays out fairly nicely though, as it is gradually told through the interactions between Kurt and the inhabitants of the robotic planet he has found himself stranded upon. There is a much bigger event going on with the planet, apart from lowly Kurt just wanting to get home, and it was interesting to see the individual robot’s attitudes to the events taking place.

Pid is a difficult game to recommend. The artistic design seems to promote the idea that the game is something you’ve never seen before, but the actual mechanics of the game were rather trite at its worst. Pid is not a bad game, don’t think that for a moment, it is just lacking the gameplay to match its creative artistic style.

[review pros="beautiful style, some replayability, easily attainable currency" cons="frustrating spikes in difficulty, never felt that fun or rewarding" score=67]

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