In a world of first person shooters and seemingly endless battle royale games, Pode is the breath of fresh air in a room of smelly gym socks, but it’s more than just a breath of fresh air. Take the time to sit down and play the game and you soon realise it’s something beyond that of just your average puzzler. Pode is a game that in the blink of an eye managed to capture my heart whilst taking my breath away.
So let’s dive in… When I stepped into the magical world of Pode I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had no real knowledge of the game beyond that which I had seen in the reveal trailer I had been shown, but it was enough to hook me without question. Once I started playing I was instantly hooked and drawn in by its enchanting soundtrack and delightfully crafted graphics, I could tell there was nothing about this tale I wasn’t going to love.
Pode certainly is a tale. More than just a puzzle game at its core, Pode is a story of a little rock named Bulder helping a fallen star called Glo find its way home. As they travel through the insides of a mysterious and magical mountain called Mount Fjellheim, Bulder and Glo must each use their unique talents and abilities to breathe life into this ancient sleeping world. As they help each other these unlikely adventure companions will solve the ancient puzzles and explore the ruins of a long lost civilisation.
Whilst unlikely, I soon realised that Bulder and Glo go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. Every area you enter in the game is an empty canvas just waiting for the pair to start painting. Using Glo’s abilities you paint the barren landscape with plant life, hover in the air, dabble in teleporting and light up the path as you travel. But Glo is nothing without Bulder who’s abilities allow them to decorate the world by growing various rocks or hard objects, fit through tiny crawl spaces, activate rock switches and hold Glo in their mouth.
“Thankfully though it’s all been kept incredibly simple and very user friendly with minimal button pressing.”
You’d think that with a list of abilities that complex for both characters the controls for Pode would be equally complex. Thankfully though it’s all been kept incredibly simple and very user friendly with minimal button pressing. The controls consist of movement and a couple of action buttons for each player which were exceptionally easy to master and was a nice change of pace from most games.
Another stand out feature for me was the drop in and out co-op. A feature we are seeing more and more these days, it’s definitely one I personally enjoy as it allows me the luxury of being able to continue my current game with a friend whilst not having to restart or create a new one.
Whilst I adore Pode and will sing its praises when asked, what I did find was that once the game has given you the basics on how to play all the training wheels came off. By this I mean there was little to no instruction on what to do and what the puzzle you’re trying to solve requires. The game for the most part is interpretive, like mime is interpretive, which isn’t bad. Not having your hand held and being able to find the answers yourself is a fact I really like about Pode, unfortunately it’s also one of the game’s biggest short comings.
At a few points during my time playing I found myself sitting there staring at the screen like I was trying to solve Schrödinger’s famous equation. To solve this I enlisted the help of a friend via the game’s co-op feature only to realise I’d dragged them down the rabbit hole with me. Whilst I soon figured out that most if not all puzzles have a hint or clue in the room somewhere to aid you in solving them, not all of the clues are easily found or understandable once found. Still this takes nothing away from the game’s overall brilliance for me and actually goes some way to extending its replayability, because if you’re anything like me you’re likely to forget some solutions for when you play again with friends.
- Exploration. Discover a beautiful and ancient cave system and uncover its secrets to reach the goal.
- Puzzles. Solve puzzles, riddles and mysteries. Combine the two character’s special abilities to overcome obstacles.
- Co-op or single player. Share the experience with a friend, or enjoy playing it by yourself.
- Unique art style. Enjoy a world inspired by Norwegian art and nature
I’ve really enjoyed my time with Pode and getting to know and love Bulder and Glo. Whilst the game isn’t perfect and suffers from the occasional handful of unclear puzzles, it’s definitely a beautifully crafted journey that should be taken. Accompanied by an equally stunning soundtrack by composer Austin Wintory Pode is a wonderfully charming puzzle game you can play either alone or with friends no matter where you are!
Pode is currently available on the Nintendo Switch eShop.