System: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Henchman & Goon
Publisher: Plan of Attack
Price: £22,49/€24,99, $24.99
Overall feeling: I like it a lot!
(Our review copy was kindly provided by Henchman & Goon)
Many years ago I visited Norway during my summer vacation. A special country, with wide vistas over the Fjords. On the one hand, the bustling city of Oslo. On the other hand, lonely places where the sheep sleep under the hut you are staying in. Visiting a Stave Church, still standing strong after hundreds of years.
Playing Pode brings me back to that feeling of Norway. Not surprising, as the game is developed by Henchman & Goon, based in Bergen. They managed to make a game world that breathes the same atmosphere that I experienced at that Stave Church.
The Beauty of Pode Gameplay
Pode is the story of a little rock helping a fallen star find its way home. They travel through the insides of a mysterious and magical mountain and along the way Bulder and Glo breathe life into an ancient sleeping world and explore the ruins of a long lost civilization with their unique talents and abilities.
At first I thought this game was just a clever way to present puzzles, but I was very wrong about that. Yes, there are puzzles. You have to figure out how to overcome every challenge that each new room you find. And although you start out fairly easy, things get tougher along the way.
#NintendoSwitch #Pode Reviewing this beautiful puzzle game! pic.twitter.com/oTYeX3zHFy
— YvoCaro (@YvoCaro) June 21, 2018
What blew me away however was the beauty our protagonists can accomplish. By pressing the ZR button in the right places plants grow and colourful rock formations decorate your screen. And I think that’s the part of the game that I found to be most relaxing. The perfect game to play when I’m commuting home after yet another busy day at work.
Look mom, no hands!
In the intro, you see the little star fall to earth, and meet the rock who is kindly offering to help out. The entire game has no spoken word, but the emotions are coming across very well.
To proceed in the game you have to solve the ancient puzzles that open the secret passageways up the caverns of Mount Fjellheim. Each of the 8 stages has its own theme, like water, wind or ice, with several areas to overcome. You’d expect that the rock and the fallen star are pretty limited without hands and feet, but they manage pretty well.
Their ZR button works miracles, but the real wondrous stuff happens when they combine their strengths. For instance, Bulder can carry Glo in his (well, what is it, his mouth?) and catapult her over great lengths. Glo can manipulate the plants to lift her up to greater heights and to get Bulder where he has to go. They have to cooperate, or the friends won’t be able to overcome the puzzles.
Both friends stay true to character, for instance, the star can float, while the rock sinks when it gets into the water. There is no real danger, as there are no enemies, and fallen from heights isn’t a problem.
Single player or co-op play
I played the game in handheld mode on my own. It works well, although I did miss being able to turn the camera in the game. Sometimes when the beauty erupts around you, it would be such fun to look around!
I should think the game is huge fun when you play it together, each with your own joy con. I didn’t have time to try the co-op mode, but I sure will in the near future. The game can be played together with kids too, a good game to set the brain cells to work!
For completionists there’s a way to fast travel to your last level, or if you want to go back to a level to see if you haven’t missed anything. And with 8 stages with 6 levels, you will have lots of addictive gameplay to look forward too.
Pode is a co-op puzzle exploration game built around themes of friendship and cooperation. the game puts a strong emphasis on positive actions, relaxing atmosphere and beautiful art inspired by Norwegian culture.
The music is very good, and fits the theme. It’s not a happy tune though, a bit melancholy really. But that’s not a problem, as a merry tune wouldn’t have fit at all. The price is a bit on the high side perhaps, with so many other indie titles out there for a lower price. But the entire game feels as if it was made with a lot of love.
This is not your game if you are looking for action or a deep storyline. But if you like clever puzzles, sharing a game with a friend and if you like the beautiful world that you can create in the game, then Pode is the game for you! I really liked playing it, as it’s a good game to lose the stress from a long working day.
I look forward to casually playing this alongside Hollow Knight. 🙂 Thanks for the review Yvonne!
You’re welcome.. and uh…you might have to help me out in a puzzle or two!
It sure looks ethereally beautiful! And calming.. Those 2 little companions Bulder and Glo are so sweet. ^_^