Pode Review (Nintendo Switch)
''Friends Forever'' - Zack Attack
Pode is a puzzle adventure co-op game developed by Henchman & Goon. Join Bulder and Gio as they adventure through a mysterious ancient mountain in order to unlock all its amazing secrets. A cute adventure, one of friendship and hope.
Pode is a touching story about a little fallen star that has crash landed to our earth and becomes friends with another little being named Bulder. Together, you will join Bulder and his new fallen star friend, Gio , as they venture through the mysterious Mount Fjellheim in order to unlock all of caverns greatest secrets. But what will this new found friendship find? Who knows!
In Pode you go on an adventure with the two characters Bulder and Gio as they climb up the mysterious Mount Fjellheim. Inside you will discover ancient puzzles and mysteries of the mountain and find out why it's a sacred and ancient place. The game operates in a co-op style, mainly meant for two players, but you can still play solo if you wish to do so. I had to play this game solo because like I stated in my other reviews, I have no friends that like to play games with me. (Forever Alone)
If you choose to play solo then the game lets you control both characters individually by pressing X. Controlling each character is crucial to solving the puzzles scattered through out the caverns of the game because each character has their own individual skills that they use to interact with the environment. Bulder, when you create a force field around him using the ZR button, will allow you to interact with rocks and other boulders in the area. This can cause rock formations and other blocks to spawn that are needed in order to finish specific puzzles and it's also a way to find hidden collectibles in rocks(54 in all).
Gio also has a special power and his is the special power of creating life. When also using ZR to make your own force field around your body, you cause all wild life and plants to start growing out of the dirt or cause sea life and plants to form inside of the ponds. Each time you reveal more of the atmosphere around you, the more secrets you will find and new secrets will be discovered. Like Gio's powers, Bulder's powers will also will be key to being able to finding secrets to complete the cavern's puzzles, as well as discovering them too.
Certain walls have murals on them that can only be activated if the light from Gio's force field touches them. These murals will either show what you have to do next, such as a specific move you have to do with Gio or Bulder or they will cause rooms to open and vines to grow for quick and easy access. You must also use Gio's power to power up blocks that Bulder can eat and keep in his mouth because when they're lit up, they're considered ''powered up''. When these are powered up, Bulder is able to place them into open slots in specific walls in order to unlock doors and initiate puzzles.
Much like the walls and murals for Gio, Bulder also has his own uses when it comes to puzzle solving. When using Bulders force field ability he is able to put pressure on blocks hidden in the floor or blocks that are sticking out of the walls. The blocks on the floor are blocks that must be stepped on, sorta like a pressure plate and when he does this it will activate a special room, door or item needed to advance. This ability is also used for the blocks that come out of the walls, because when used on them, it will temporary open a passage way or stop a waterfall from flowing so your friend Gio is able to pass into the next area to continue the puzzle.
Once you get these basic skills down then you're ready to tackle the harder challenges in the game. This is where the game is going to either be more fun or more frustrating for players. The puzzles in Pode range from super easy to head scratchers that you might get stuck on for long periods of time, depending on how witty you are. Myself while playing this game, got stuck on some puzzles upwards to 20 to 30 minutes at time because I just couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do. But then I come to find out it was the most obvious thing in the world and the game just stood there and taunted me and said ''I Pode You So!''. Curse you game!
The later puzzles in the game make you combine the abilities of each characters to the extent where you have to think outside the box. For instance you'll come across murals on the wall that show a fat block with a circle in the middle of it and you'll wonder ''the hell is that?''. Well what the game is telling you to do is it's telling you that you must take Bulder and eat Gio, pretty much like Kirby, and then you can either carry him off somewhere else that he can't reach on his own. Then proceed hold ZR to power up and spit him long distances so you can cross a gap that Gio can't jump across. You gotta be smart with how you approach mid game to late game puzzles.
Gio is going to be a main focus the majority of these puzzles, why is that you ask? you didn't ask? But I could've sworn you said something..hmmm.. damn voices in my head, I really need that checked out,but I digress. The reason hes the main focus is because he gets a special teleportation ability and this allows him to create a small light source of himself. You create this life/light source by holding ZR and pressing A on the controller, when you've done this, a little white dot will be left behind, this is your energy. You are then able to travel freely to another section of the screen to do puzzles elsewhere and if you need to return to that same spot then you simply old ZL and press A. When this is done, you will immediately teleport back to the spot where you left your life force. This is going to be key.
Bulder does not have this same ability as Gio, but he is still able to use it in way. You see you are able to take Gio to places in a puzzle or section that fat boy Bulder can't get to because he's too heavy to get there or he can't swim. So in order to help him out you can go to a spot he can't go to, drop a life force, make your way back to his location and then have Bulder eat Gio. Now since the life force has been dropped and Bulder has Gio in his mouth, he is now able to take advantage of Gio's powers too. Simply press ZL and A and you as Bulder with Gio in your mouth will be transported together to the spot where Gio dropped the life force. Booyah!
The overall period of time this game is going to take you in order to beat it is gonna differ from person to person. As I mentioned a bit earlier in the above paragraphs, the puzzles start off straight forward and to the point and they're generally pretty damn easy, however the further you get in the game and more combination of skills you have to use for Bulder and Gio, the game becomes much more frustrating. The frustration is going to be either a negative or positive to people because I know people personally that just like playing a game and getting through it with no obstacles, while other people like myself love sitting and thinking of what to do next sometimes. No matter what type of player you are though, be prepared to spend a long time on some of these puzzles, It's very doubtful you'll figure them all out immediately.
This game in the character design department is the most adorable little thing I have seen in a long time. Each character is so small and fat and it makes me want to pinch their cheeks or poke their bellies to see if they will do a pillsbury laugh. They only communicate via sounds and noises, but they both have great facial animations and great character animations. It's the cutest damn thing to see them walking around holding hands together, gah, I need a plushie of these characters. Make me one.
Graphically the game is very beautiful. The environment in each area is very smooth looking and colors are very vibrant. The most amazing parts of the game in the graphics area takes place in dark environments that must be lit up by Gio and Bulder. This is because all plant life and rocks light up bright neon colors and glow in the darkness, and its simply beautiful. This goes along well with the music too. The music makes you feel so at peace and it's so dang relaxing. This is the type of music I would listen to if I was having a stressful day and needed to unwind. I would pop in this OST and immediately get relaxed and feel at ease, it's that good and yes it's that enchanting.
My final thoughts on this game are that its both challenging and relaxing to play. At times you will feel annoyed and frustrated with this game to the extent you might think about quitting and playing something else, but you're brought back down from your rage by the enchanting and delightful music that you constantly hear throughout the game. While my only negative I have to give it is in regards to the length overall of the game,because is very very short, the positives of the creative puzzles, the challenge, combination of the skills you have to use, character designs, music and the games overall theme of cuteness and friendship,outweigh that by far. So if you're in the mood for a cute and challenging good time, I say this is a must have.
Pode is out now for Nintendo Switch.
*Review code provided by Henchman & Goon