Pid is a game that tests your patience, and rewards perseverance.
If you find pleasure in overcoming mind numbing challenges, and enjoy extreme difficulty, then Pid is the game for you. Pid, short for Planet in Distress, is created by Might and Delight, and was released on the PlayStation Network for $9.99 on October 31st, 2012. It is a retro style, side scrolling, platform game where you take on the roll of Kurt, exploring a strange new world. Kurt is stranded, and he must battle a horde of robots in order to find a way home.
Pid is a beautiful game to watch. Visually, the character design, the otherwordly color palette and the world itself are breathtaking. The animation is fluid, and you enter a realm that you’re unfamiliar with. It’s both alien and surreal, and for that, I adore Pid’s art direction. The music, by Retro Family, is calm, enchanting, and quirky. It’s soothing, and makes the game feel like it’s going to be a carefree romp through a magical underworld.
You begin the game with a simple jump, with the ability to crawl through narrow spaces. This is quickly remedied by opening a chest that blasts forth roaring yellow light! You’ve just found “The Beam”. I felt a rush of excitement in those first moments. Yes, this game was about to get real. Then the calm music begins to play, and you venture forth with your new found power. With a press of the square button, you toss a speck of light that arcs before hitting the floor. When the orb makes contact with the ground, it creates a beam of light that manipulates gravity. Stepping into said beam slowly levitates you in the direction that the light flows.
This creates an interesting dynamic with the light, gravity, and your surroundings. Hitting a flat, level surface will create a beam that levitates you upwards. Hitting a slope will shine a light into an angle that pushes you into the air, while an orb against the wall pushes you backwards. This was an interesting mechanic! I watched trailers, and thought the idea was pretty genius- in theory. In actual gameplay, its frustrating. First of all, it’s hard to place the beam exactly where you want it. There is an arc, and more often than not, it will not land where you want it to. Which is not a good thing, because eventually, the game becomes more about the precision of your placement. Precision is not a strong point with this power. You can only shoot the beam forward, into a gentle arc, or straight down. You can’t fire it in any other direction.
Also, once inside the beam, you are almost at the mercy of the gravity. So if it pushes your character into the air, you go straight up. Pushing down on the D-pad slows you down a bit, but not by very much. I found myself fighting against the mechanics of the beam, trying to force my way down, or forward against the momentum, but I’d never make any headway.
The gravity mechanic was fun, but I do wish that they had added another form of attack. It would have been nice if you could stomp on enemies, as in Mario, or at least a simple punch or kick to defend yourself. You are given bombs, but those are sparse, and the enemies numerous. Later, you get different objects that help you out, like a slingshot, firecrackers, smoke bombs, and vests that make it harder for you to die.
So fighting against the beam, and never fully feeling like you have control of the weapon is one thing. However, before you even get a chance to get used to manipulating gravity, they start to throw obstacles in your way. First of which are laser cameras. To move them out of the way, you need to shine a beam on the floor, which will lift it up and allow you to travel underneath. One touch, and they kill you instantly.
After that, on the very next screen, I had to use the beam to hit a circle, that opened the door ahead. Simple enough. Beyond the door was a flying enemy, that was not effected, at all, by my beam. It would fly straight at me, and death would ensue. So at this point, I had to be fast, which as I said, was hard without being able to fire the Beam at any exact area.
Your next encounter is with purple crabs that drop from the ceiling. If you throw an orb they get caught and levitate out of the way. I thought, “Okay, good plan!” They’re out of the way, right? But since there’s no way to jump over the beam, as soon as I stepped into the light, it brought me straight up into the enemy and I died.
If the enemies were not enough to add to the frustration, eventually there are purple spikes on the walls, the floor, and around objects. At one point, I couldn’t touch the ground because there were spikes everywhere, and I needed to shoot beams on the wall, then the floor, then jump, and finally create another beam before I plummeted to my doom. Once again, not a problem if the beam wasn’t fighting against you. One touch, and you are dead.
Everything can kill you. You will die more times than you can count, and with no other weapon except for a jump and the beam, you are helpless. So not only are you fighting to control a weapon that fights against you, you have other enemies that are introduced early in the game that are faster, and cannot be killed without the use of bombs.
One good thing is that there are save points, so as you progress you will always revive just before the last area where you died. This allows multiple tries, with no game over, or penalty for dying. This is great, because it allows you to try again.
I found that adventuring through the game with a friend made all the obstacles a little easier to conquer. I played through the game with my wife, and it added a whole new dynamic to the challenge. Each person is allowed to toss one beam, so team work is essential and you need to trust each other in order to continue. Also, if one of you dies, you can bring them back by talking to one of the helpful NPCs, or by hitting a check point.
Pid is a great platforming game, with wonderful visuals, and an amazing soundtrack. It’s a puzzle game that tests your patience, and rewards perseverance. Pid is challenging, but despite it’s difficulty, you feel a sense of accomplishment once you manage to wage through the many, many obstacles the game throws at you. For the price of $9.99, it is definitely worth looking into.