Review: PID is a 2D side-scrolling platformer starring an eight-year old kid who can manipulate gravity, but does this platformer rise to the occasion or does it fall flat?
It’s uncommon that the hero destined to save the world is an eight-year old. It’s even more uncommon to see, in an age where protecting our children is so important, that this young child is being stalked, bombed on, shot at, and constantly put in other dangers by an unknown deviant trying to take something this boy had no choice in receiving. This is Pid. Well, the name of the game is Pid. Our hero has a normal name, Kurt.
The Beam. This is the treasure the curious kid stumbles upon when spotting a chest smack dab in the middle of a cave. And although his adversaries want it – and he wouldn’t mind giving it to them – it’s locked to his hands. With it, though, he can drop a small, crystal-like ball, which summons a large beam to propel him or objects in whatever direction it’s facing.
It’s also his main means of navigation in a world that leaves behind most traditional platforming elements in favour of gravity-defying puzzle-platforming. You can manipulate the beam to launch things slower or faster, slightly to the left or right, and it’s an effective means to get around, but the over-abundance of gravity-defying navigation wears thin. It’s not that using the ethereal flotation device is obnoxious, it’s just overused. There are a few segments in the game where you’re dropping ball after ball after ball, slowly traversing the space, and despite some of Might & Delight’s excellent level design, you’ll wish for times when you can simply jump around again.
Balance is Pid’s biggest problem, starting with the level design and ending with the way it handles death. Touch anything hostile, just once, and your screen blacks out, sending you back to the last checkpoint (although they are fairly gracious). It hearkens back to Super Meat Boy, but unlike that game, Pid suffocates the screen with obstacles and enemies to dodge. It’s at its strongest when the game drops this added baggage and lets you solve a puzzle in peace, especially when death sucks out some of the joy of the puzzling because it means plodding through parts again with the sluggish beam.
Falling with style
When you’re free to explore the puzzles unhindered, that’s where it shines. Pid tests your understanding of the puzzles and mechanics, rather than your command of the controls. Most times, when you die, it’s not because you didn’t control Kurt correctly, but because you changed gravity in the wrong place, started from the wrong angle, or placed a block incorrectly. Rarely are those times as frustrating as being shot down by an enemy.
However, the combination of puzzle elements and boss fights tend to elicit controller-throwing madness. At first, they start out by cleverly utilising the concept of the beam, but quickly devolve into control-based precision and an over-dependence on the beam that limits what would be exciting boss fights. These end of segment battles become extreme patience testers and it’s at these points where you decide whether you want to take a break, or force your way through a mad storm of trial and error until you beat it. Boss fights would function a lot better if Kurt could take more damage, but since you can’t for most of the game, you’re subjected to starting back at the beginning of a fight, unless you get significantly far enough.
Considering all this, you’re still just an eight-year old trying to reach the dang bus stop to get home. Seeing a kid so young doesn’t make you contemplate life, but it does bring thoughts as to why the developers thought to subject such a young child to these horrors. In a planet turned apathetic by the dismay of losing their king and queen and being overrun, they turn to a kid who is over 50 years younger than them as their salvation. The story in and of itself isn’t deep, but the premise is certainly a disturbing one to think about.
Most young boys, like Kurt, have to learn how to deal with things patiently. Pid is certainly a master teacher. The brightest moments come from seeing how the game continues to test your puzzle-solving abilities. It can get a tad boring at times with the continued reliance on defying gravity and the frequent deaths, but with a little patience, Pid is an addition to the platform family worth checking out.
Pid, from Might & Delight, is available now for Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3 and PC.