New Game Review

Review – Pode (Switch)

Not to be mistaken with Tide Pods, this co-op puzzle platformer is recommended for consumption.

 

It seems as if lately games that implement the use of cooperative gameplay have been more on the rise. One would instantly think of the recent prison-break game, A Way Out, a game purely co-op that actually necessitates two people to play throughout the entirety of the game, whether or not online, as they’ll undertake the role of the two main characters and work together to progress through the story all the way to the brilliant conclusion (seriously, a very smart way to end the game, if you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend doing so). In other instances, games have the possibility of playing a game cooperatively or permitting one player to switch between the two characters. Enter the game Pode, a game that gave me an early worry, but once progressed, became more and more reassuring of its true intentions.

pode-gameplay-teaser.mp4
Holding hands. Adorable and recommended.

Unfortunately the first thing that stands out to me is Pode’s story, or in this case, lack thereof. In my first review of Shiny, one of the main contributions to the game’s failures is the absence of an explained story and thus a reason to care about why you should play. You’re just thrown in and that’s it. With Pode, the similar ill-fated feeling begins to creep up straightaway. From what I got, you are two characters comprised of a cube of rock and a fallen star bit, working together to solve puzzles and bringing life to the barren caves with their magical powers. Yeah, that’s about it. Maybe puzzle games like these don’t really need much of a story to garner incentive, but for me personally, I need some form of plot to care about or I’m going to lose interest very quickly.

Thankfully, as you play the game you realize that despite a lackluster story, the game in itself is pretty engaging. Your objective is simple: solve each screen’s puzzle switching between each character and using their specific powers. The rock’s special power involves rock manipulation, whether making them appear, engulfing them, or altering their height. The star bit’s powers involve making plants appear, melting snow, and revealing hint glyphs on rocks. Normally, you can stay together adorably holding hands while combining your powers and walk all around each screen to reveal everything, somewhat cheesing the game. However, because the characters move a little bit on the slower side, this can feel tedious and monotonous especially as it’s almost always required. If you need to go back to a previously visited screen, fast travel is there for your convenience. I will point out that the game starts out easy and then progresses very nicely into a fair and balanced increase in difficulty and required some thought process. Eventually you will gain new abilities which will definitely require you to think a lot harder and that’s when the game really takes off. It seems like at that point you overlook your initial concern about the lack of story and are now fully engaged on solving thought-provoking puzzles.

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From the very beginning, hidden symbols guide your way.

For a Switch game, Pode’s graphics are satisfying but simple. The characters are charming and are definitely meant to entice the younger audience, but I feel a little more thought could go into it. The surroundings however are very captivating and really shine when you let your powers loose and reveal more rocks and plants. The colors and contrast really blend together well. If the game’s overall graphics were just a little bit more cutting-edge, I can only envision how unquestionably gorgeous the transformations would look.

The music and sound effects are somewhat of a spectacle. Being set in caves, the audio is fittingly reverberated and more focused, the characters make appealing sounds every now and then, and most notably when your powers reveal more rocks and plants, the sounds are very life-like. However, it’s the soundtrack that really knocks it out of the park. The game is never meant to be stressful in any way and the calm, tender, and melodic music is used as brain candy. It allows the gamer(s) to be in a constant state of relaxation as they focus on the current puzzle and only intensifies when said puzzle has been solved. I guarantee you will lose yourself in its serene and tranquil musical embodiment.

Pode-3
Serene environments and tranquil music pull you in.

I will admit, I don’t ever have high hopes for a game that lacks a story, simple as that. If I don’t have a story, my mood is instantly filthy and I don’t feel a need to play the game. However, Pode turns out to be a pretty big exception to my concerns and left me very amusingly surprised. Despite some speed and depth perception platforming issues, the game has a lot going for it. The graphics are attractive, if at times simple. The difficulty is just right and increases at a smooth rate and will eventually test your thought process. The music allows the gamer to calmly get lost in a puzzle solving frenzy and the sound effects have extremely natural and believable characteristics. Pode is not to be confused with Tide Pods and trust me, this product is recommended for consumption by all ages.

 

Graphics: 7.0

Attractive yet simple visuals, although main characters could use more thought. The surroundings are enticing.

Gameplay: 7.0

The ability to play co-op or single player is nice. Character movement is slow and has depth perception issues. Simple, yet tedious requirements.

Sound: 9.0

Life-like sound effects and euphoric soundtrack let the player focus on the task at ease.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Fair increase in difficulty and new abilities require more thought process, garnering incentive.

Final Verdict: 7.5

 

Pode is available now on Nintendo Switch

A copy of Pode was provided by the publisher.

 

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