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Pid (PC) artwork

Pid (PC) review

"Welcome to the planet of the sad robots."

Pid (PC) image

Pid is both a tale of courage despite indifference and a lackluster, futuristic side-scrolling platformer. It stars an ordinary youngster, Kurt, whose interplanetary bus inadvertently drops him off on a planet embroiled in the midst of a political conspiracy. Extremists have quietly overthrown the royal family and assumed control over the world's robotic population. Kurt's only intention is to return home, but a resistance movement sees his presence as a blessing.

Unfortunately, Kurt refuses to get chummy with the natives. He tells them he doesn't care about their plight, and he only shows interest in their conflict when it suits him. His emotional reluctance is understandable, but his apathy sucks the enjoyment out of the simple narrative. This is only one of several letdowns showcased in Pid.

In his travels, Kurt soon stumbles upon an odd gemstone. It creates gravity-defying rays of light that aid him in his quest. Tossing a particle on the floor causes a pillar to materialize and push Kurt upward. Throwing one against a wall builds a horizontal beam that not only thrusts him sideways, but prevents him from plummeting. This is handy for moments when you need to access a platform, but can't reach it with a standard jump. In such a scenario, you might construct a light stream on a nearby wall to carry you to your destination.

Pid (PC) image

Sadly, there are some issues associated with the gem. For starters, it's not a sufficiently interesting device to headline an entire campaign. Can you imagine if Nintendo developed a Metroid installment that revolved entirely around the morph ball or screw attack? Those are nifty items, to be sure, but they work best as individual bits among a collection of abilities. Pid's gem should have received similar treatment. Granted, the game offers neat consumables that perform special functions: bombs, explosives that allow you to high jump, and a smoke screen. However, as these are finite items, their main task is to simplify some of the game's tough segments. They aren't required in order to complete the campaign, and you can get through a vast portion of it without using them at all. In other words, they take a disappointing back seat to the star attraction that is the gem.

Another issue is that at times it is needlessly difficult to gauge when you're supposed to jump while riding beams. Sometimes, if you're fortunate, you can pull of a crazy high leap from the apex of a beacon. During other occasions, though, your dismount is ineffective and you end up dropping into the unknown below. It's irksome, too, that the rays sometimes hold onto you longer than they should. I've had scores of moments where I would attempt to break away from one, only to be drawn back to it. That might not sounds like such a horrible fate, until you attempt to escape a beam before it shoves you into spikes or a foe.

Pid (PC) image

I will say that Pid at least tries to give its core mechanic proper allure, particularly by offering a variety of ways to utilize it. The campaign features a plethora of unconventional level types, each with its own theme. For instance, there's a scene where you must escape a playhouse without disrupting the handful of dramas held there. You accomplish this by staying away from the spotlights shining on each stage, and by throwing smoke bombs when necessary. Another level places you in a series of catacombs. They are populated by massive stone insects that are attracted to the brightness of the gem's pillars. When creating a beam, you have to take the creatures' positions into account and maneuver around them. Otherwise, you're toast.

Sadly, Pid's variety is ultimately for naught. Never mind that it features diverse puzzle designs; all of them revolve around either avoiding scores of mechanical adversaries (thanks to your lack of an actual weapon) or utilizing the gemstone ad nauseam. Worse than that is the way the aforementioned physics nuances render each segment frustrating and/or tedious, because many of the puzzles require a fair number of steps for completion. There's one, for instance, where you must use light rays to guide a movable platform all over a chamber, with the intention of safely catching a robot before it lands on a bed of spikes. After that, you must bring the bot down to the floor, and then manipulate it into using its wi-fi signal so that it will unlock a door for you, all while shielding it from a vertical laser using the platform the crony was just riding. Following that is a short hallway with yet another laser and no apparent means to stymie it. Yep, you guessed it: you have to return to the previous room and re-position both of the movable platforms that wait there, all without zapping yourself with the first laser.

The above objectives would have been tolerable enough with tight mechanics in place to support them. Alas, Pid suffers from an awkward combination of loose control response when jumping, and sluggish physics when walking. Many stages sport dinky platforms that require precision, which is hard to pull off when you can't properly gauge your jump. All too often, I ended up overshooting my destination or falling short. It's also tiring when you're moseying from one platforming event to the next at the plodding pace Kurt maintains. Sidescrollers tend to profit from snappy pacing, which Pid fails to manage. The worst moments, though, come when you're attempting to pull a 180, especially if you're riding a beam at the time. I can't tell you how often Kurt failed to spin around in the timely manner required, resulting in me either tossing a light particle in the wrong direction or remaining in the clutches of the pillar when trying to break away.

Pid (PC) image

Pid also violates one of my biggest platformer peeves. Now and then, situations might call for you to descend to a lower platform. That's dandy and all, except when the next slew of ledges is positioned so low that it's actually off-screen. The only way to progress is to drop into the chasm and pray you don't miss your target...

Pid is a slog. It's slow, dull, frustrating, awkward, and rife with drawn out challenges. Its headlining mechanism, the gem, would have worked great as part of a fuller lineup of gadgets. However, it's hardly worth crafting an entire game around it. Even so, I wouldn't say that Pid failed due to a lack of effort. You can tell the team members at Might and Delight worked their tails off when you take in some of the intricate details the game presents: wonderful background environments, decent overall level schematics, and a gorgeous, lighthearted presentation that's never overly childish. It's all too easy to overlook these appreciable aspects, though, when the game in which they're featured is otherwise such a mess.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (February 21, 2016)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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LeVar_Ravel posted February 24, 2016:

I thought they came up with enough puzzle/level variations to keep the beam gameplay interesting in small doses. It made for an old-fashioned but high-tech platformer.

That is, until the "Maze" level did me in, the one where you must use the beam to push a floating light all the way through just to see what you're doing. Oh, and plenty o' spikes, so you can foolishly devote 20 minutes to inching your way through with the floating light, then die in two spike hits.

It reminds me that they were really tempting fate, giving this game a title usually found as part of an insult word!
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 25, 2016:

Ugh, I forgot about the maze. I was going to bring that up in the review, as a good point to how tedious the game can be. It started off reasonable enough, but having to push that light around was ridiculous.

I fought off every temptation to use that insult. Honestly, I don't think the game is stupid (which helped keep the temptations at bay). It's got a lot of great ideas, I just don't think they were well utilized.

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