Pode: review

 

  • Format: Switch
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Henchman & Goon
  • Developer: Henchman & Goon
  • Players: 1-2 (offline only)
  • Site: http://www.podegame.com/
  • Game code provided by PR

Pode is a cute little co-op puzzle game featuring the story of a little rock called Bulder, who comes across a fallen star called Glo. They quickly form a bond together while Bulder helps Glo find his way back home. Players need to utilise the two characters’ unique powers as they make their way through the cave system of Mount Fjellheim, solving ancient puzzles as they go, opening up closed passageways inside the mountain.

Bring life to the grey caves of Mount Fjellheim in Pode.

Pode is a co-op exploration game, which you can play either on your own or with a local co-op partner. There is very little story to the game, with only brief cutscenes featuring no dialogue. The game gently eases you in with some simple puzzles to help you become accustomed to the powers. Bulder has the ability to grow crystal structures, make his way through narrow square tunnels, interact with switches to activate platforms, pick up small rocks in his mouth and take them elsewhere; and also to hold Glo in his mouth, and spit him out like a rock-encrusted version of Yoshi. Glo has the ability to light up darkened areas and uncover hidden cave drawings, make plant life grow, melt ice, and set up a glowing portal which allows you to teleport back to wherever you place it.

Friendship and cooperation are at the heart of the game, with both characters needing to work together to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles. Using Glo and Bulder to breathe colourful life into the caves of Mount Fjellheim is very satisfying, and reminds us of Flower, where you brought vibrant colour to previously dead fields in the game’s lands using the power of the wind. Working with a friend or family member also works brilliantly in Pode, and even when we had to play the game on our own, switching between characters was simple; and the pace of the game means that there isn’t too much button mashing involved in switching between Glo and Bulder when trying to solve a more complex puzzle. Each of the levels is split into smaller stages, which you can fast travel to at any point in the game. This helps you find any hidden collectibles without too much backtracking.

This puzzle took an age to solve, but the solution was so easy when we found it!

The game has a nice art style and ambience about it, and the developers Henchman & Goon have utilised their Norwegian heritage with a truly magical world inspired by Norwegian art and nature. The soundtrack by Austin Wintory is also superb, with a laid-back heartwarming style featuring stringed instrumentation that fits the game perfectly. The game uses a fixed camera, which works reasonably well – although there were times where we wished we could look around to see how far our little character had to jump before we took the literal plunge, as it was difficult to judge the distance sometimes. Dying isn’t a problem in Pode though, as if you fall off a ledge you immediately respawn close by. Another frustration with the game however is that if you get stuck, there aren’t any hints to tell you what you should do next, so you can get stumped for a good while at some points in the game. However, you do get a real buzz when the solution finally dawns on you, and you manage to navigate both Glo and Bulder through to the next stage. Unfortunately there were also a few dips in performance at times with the game stuttering quite badly on occasion, which was quite strange considering the slow-paced nature of the gameplay. We can only hope Henchman & Goon can deliver a patch soon to fix this issue.

Some of the platforming is difficult to judge with the fixed camera angle.

Pode is a wonderful co-op adventure, featuring two cute little characters, that you’d have to have a heart of stone (sorry Bulder!) not to like. It has a nice chilled out ambience to it, but it can also be quite taxing on the old grey matter, with some pretty fiendish puzzles later on in the game. Some of these later puzzles will have you pulling your hair out or yelling expletives, unless you have a young co-op partner keeping you in check of course! If you enjoyed games like Journey and Flower, then you will love Pode which, while a lot more challenging than either of thatgamecompany’s seminal games, is a heartwarming co-op experience that both parents and their children can enjoy together.

Bulder and Glo are the best of buddys in the beautiful world of Pode.

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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