Sometimes you pick up a game and without realising it you’re transported into a calming world filled with beautiful music and gorgeous ambience. Pode is one of those games.
- Developer: Henchman & Goon
- Publisher: Henchman & Goon
- Release date: 3rd April 2020
- Genre: Co-operative puzzler
- Platforms: Windows PC (Steam)
- Reviewed on: Titan Gaming PC
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Pode starts off with a star falling out of the sky, this cute little character is called Glo and needs all the help he can get. Enter Builder, an adorable little boulder character who shows Glo that if they get to the top of a mountain together then Glo will be close enough to get back into the sky. So, they set off together into the mountain, not knowing what adventure awaits them.
The character models are so adorable that at some points my little heart couldn’t take it. A glowing ball and a grey cube on paper may not sound aesthetically pleasing, but when paired together a match made in heaven. They communicate with each other through trills, Glo has a higher-pitched trill than Builder but they are both as lovable as each other. Early into the game, the player is introduced to the hand-holding mechanic where Glo and Builder can combine their abilities by holding hands. Even when I wasn’t using their abilities, I made them hold hands because it was too charming for words.
Although the game only lasts for around 4 hours, the difficulty curve of each level allows for the player to get used to certain mechanics before progressing. Within the mountain, there is a main cave that branches off into different puzzles, with a magnificent puzzle at the end of each branch. The goal is to get water into the main chamber to allow for a tree to grow. This tree will then help Glo and Builder access more puzzles and climb higher up the mountain.
The game can be played solo or local co-op (or even through Steams Remote Play Together), I played it solo which was easy enough, but I can imagine that you would get more out of this game in co-op. I can imagine this would be a good first date game to play; cute and not too difficult but co-op is needed to progress. When playing it solo, I had to keep remembering to switch between Glo and Builder to use their different abilities.
The gameplay is primarily puzzle orientated; each character has different abilities that allow them to solve different parts of the puzzle. However, in order to complete the puzzle, they must both exit the room at the same time. Builder can form crystals, move rock formations, enter tunnels and carry objects, whereas Glo can walk on water, float on air drafts and make flowers and plants bloom into existence. With the help of each other’s abilities the puzzles can be solved, sometimes with ease but other times they can be quite challenging.
Sometimes I found myself just wandering through a puzzle room changing the ambience of the area. Thanks to the characters abilities you can change a desolate area filled with ice into an area filled with blossoming topiary and glowing crystals. It gave me a sense of satisfaction when leaving an area completely transformed. Whilst I was wandering around, I also found hidden symbols in the area which provided key clues to puzzles. These clues would show what puzzle pieces fit in certain holes and if a new ability should be used that I wasn’t previously aware of. However, I found that sometimes if I hadn’t gone into a specific area, I would miss lighting up a vital clue needed in order to solve a puzzle.
The dimensional layout of the levels would sometimes cause me issues when playing. The 3d but also 2d feel of the rooms would cause me to misjudge a jump and must replay a section over again through no fault of my puzzle-solving ability. Other than that the level design fits the visual feel of Pode very well, the colours begin quite muted but through using their abilities the characters transform the colour and feel of the level into something a lot more welcoming.
The music in this game is so soothing that I want to grab myself a copy of the OST to play in the background as I write. It has a Gaelic feel to it and sounds like music that would be played in the background of a Disney movie. The composer is Austin Wintory, who has composed music for various other games, and I feel that he has not slipped up with the music for Pode. It allowed me to drift into the world peacefully and only emerge when the time was right.
Pode is the perfect game to relax and unwind with. Make yourself a mug of something warm, light a fire, snuggle up in your blanket and play this game. If you have someone else to play it with then that sounds like the perfect night in.