Xbox LIVE Arcade Reviews

Review: Pid

Pid (which does not stand for “pelvic inflammatory disease,” in case you like non-specific Google searches) is an atmospheric platformer that is best described as Limbo with the lights turned on. The game, created by Might & Delight, features a chubby young boy in a space helmet who wakes up in an unfamiliar world and begins a simple quest to find the nearest bus stop and a way home. Along the way you will meet many quirky inhabitants of the mysterious planet, though not all of them are helpful.

The main conflict of the game begins when you literally stumble upon a glowing white gem with mysterious powers. Throwing the gem on the ground creates a beam of strange light which has the power to levitate just about anything, and apparently there are those who will do anything to keep this power contained.

In addition to being a plot device, the properties of the gem are the primary gameplay mechanic of Pid. Whenever you throw the gem against a surface – be it a wall, floor or incline – the gem radiates out a light that pushes, lifts or repels anything that comes across its path. This can help elevate you to higher places when thrown at your own feet, or can be used to eliminate most of the clockwork style enemies bent on your demise.

The ways in which the gem can be used are constantly being expanded through interaction with the environment, in a manner similar to how the basic concept of placing two portals in separate locations lends itself to so many of Valve’s mind-bending puzzles. Not only can you throw down two gems at once which each last a limited time before disappearing, but you can cancel a gem’s light beam as well with the press of a button. This allows you to plan when and where objects or persons fall, which can make the difference between safety and a spikey death.

The gem powers are further augmented by objects collected in your inventory as well. You can pick up things like bombs, special rocket gems which catapult you skyward, or even body armor. Using these items in conjunction with the powers of the light beams provides a ton of possibilities to accomplish the deceptively simple goal of getting from A to B in the mostly linear world.

As you move throughout the world there are plenty of secrets to discover, such as souvenirs to take with you on your journey or floating stars which can be used to purchase most of the mentioned items. There are also hidden constellations worth double the stars/points, though finding or reaching them will require mastery of the game’s basic principles. That mastery can be a difficult thing to achieve for those short on patience.

If there is anything negative to say about Pid it’s that the game’s pacing is too slow. Your character moves with as much agility as you would expect of a well-mannered Eric Cartman look-a-like, and the light beams lift you at about the same speed. Although the action is slow to the point where you’ll have A Boy and His Blob flashbacks (for the NES version, anyway) that doesn’t mean it is easy to avoid dying. Often you will have to be very precise in the timing and placement of your gems if you want to get through an encounter alive.

What’s great about Pid is that for the most part the checkpoints are very, very close together. More often than not you will be surprised by how little you have to do over than by how much progress you just lost. In some ways this works against the game’s favor, such as during larger boss fights at the end of each unique area – you will have grown so accustomed to the last checkpoint being so close that being set back more than thirty seconds starts to seem outrageous.

The game likely won’t please fans who are looking for a faster paced experience, but for those who like platforming and light puzzles Pid is the perfect combination. The story is peculiar in a way that holds its own unique charm, while the graphics and audio do everything possible to enhance the experience. If you liked Limbo chances are you’ll enjoy Pid, but if the action of Joe Danger is more your style then you may find this a little boring.

SCORE: 8 out of 10

A copy of Pid was provided to Pixel Related for review.

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