I’m going to start this game review by asking you some questions. Do you like beautiful art styles? Cute characters? Challenging but not frustrating puzzles? A game that can be played totally co-op or solo? A wonderful companion soundtrack? If you said “yes” to all of the above, then Pode is a game you must check out.
Pode tells the story of a fallen star (Glo) who is trying to make its way back to the sky and is befriended by a passing rock (Bulder). To accomplish the goal of getting Glo back to where he belongs, the player must use each of the two characters’ different abilities to solve puzzles. Sounds basic, right? It is, but it works so well. There is no dialogue in the game, but instantly you feel the connection between these two charming characters, walking hand in hand, jumping around making cute noises and solving puzzles.
Each character plays differently. The star is light and fast and can float as he falls, and he can turn a dull cave into a beautiful garden; using his glowing ability, you can make plants grow all around you. Not only does this look amazing, but it serves a purpose since bringing plants to life provides you with giant leaves to climb up or across in order to reach normally inaccessible areas. While the rock is slow and heavy, it can make dazzling crystal formations to add to your scenery, and they are also capable lifting bricks and activating switches on the ground. There are times when the star and the rock must work together to solve puzzles; the star can sit inside the rock, concentrating its beams of light to shine in any direction to activate switches, or they can stand on top of each other to reach higher ledges, all the while making cute sounds. As you go on, you learn new abilities to help you along your way. It’s a testament to the Norwegian developers Henchman & Goon that I so quickly fell in love with these characters and could feel the sincerity of their friendship without a single word being uttered or any text being provided.
For me, a highlight was entering a fairly dull looking cave and leaving it looking totally different, full of grass and plantlife and unusual crystal formations on the walls.
The puzzles started off fairly easy, but they grew more challenging the further I climbed up the mountain that leads to the final destination. As time went on, I had to start thinking outside the box to figure out how to complete the next stage, but it never felt unfair or frustrating, I knew I could do it, I just had to work it out. It never felt to easy or too challenging. With Pode being fully playable in co-op, I played it with my other half, and while she is not a gamer, she enjoyed the experience and never got overwhelmed by the challenges. If you fall off a cliff, you simply come back, if you want to play through a particular challenge or puzzle a second time, just go back to the previous room and retry it.
The game plays great, the physics work well, and switching between characters is done with a simple click of a button, which works great in co-op or solo. If you’re bored of playing as one character, you can simply switch over to the other one. Playing solo works just as well, you do what you need to do with one character then hop over to the other one. You can press a button to have your character and your partner walk hand in hand so you don’t have to play catch up if you go on ahead of the other character, or you can simply sit on the other character’s head.
I must also add that the music is wonderful. It’s chilled out and relaxing, and it really helps build this calming atmosphere while you’re trying to use your brain.
Developer: Henchman & Goon
Publisher: Henchman & Goon
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 21st June 2018