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PAX East 2012: Pid Hands-On

This indie platformer is one to watch

By Daniel Jones on 4/6/2012
Today at PAX East in Boston, I was able to sit down and get a hands-on with the latest build of the upcoming indie platformer Pid. The game is being developed by Might & Delight, a team made up of veterans from Bionic Commando: RearmedPid may not be on many a person's radar at this point but the art style, music, tight controls and quirky story all seem to be positioning Pid to be one of this year's stand-out downloadable titles.

Adam Boyes, the President of Beefy Media who is providing creative strategy on the project gave me the chance to see an hour of this quirky platformer. In a quiet corner of the crowded convention center lobby, we sat down and booted up the latest build of the game including never before seen later levels and enemies.

Pid is about a boy named Kurt lost on a planet full of robots who is simply trying to find his way home. Some of the robots are friendly and some not so much. The player guides Kurt through the world with the use of pellets that project light beams to lifts objects, enemies and the player themselves to higher areas. Imagine the tractor beams from Portal 2, but on a 2D plane. The player can have up to two beams going at once. Boyes explained that it's possible (but difficult) to play the game without ever touching the ground and simply floating along light beams.

This mechanic adds a dimension of puzzle solving to the tight platforming gameplay that makes Pid stand out from other games in its genre. The light beams are useful for much more than simply transporting Kurt from one ledge to another. In my hands-on demo I threw a pellet underneath a robot, lifting him into a conveniently placed spike-trap in the ceiling. Sneaky tactics such as this are Kurt's main means of defense against those nasty robots. He doesn't have many offensive abilities, so using the environment in clever ways is a necessity to survive.

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Early stages felt similar to Mario and even Limbo (minus the gloomy backdrop). Platforming and puzzle solving are the game's modus operandi in the early stages, easing the player into the unique mechanics and giving them time to soak in the charming setting. New mechanics and tactics such as the use of bombs are introduced early on, but the main component of the gameplay is the light beams.

Puzzle mechanics aren't laid out in a big flashing sign for players to read but rather left unexplained to encourage a sense of accomplishment. A big smile spread across my face when I solved a puzzle and executed it correctly.

That constant sense of accomplishment is something the designers want to sustain throughout the adventure. The whole game seems to be an homage to classic 8-bit titles. The team's influences became clearer as I saw more of the game. While the early stages evoke Super Mario Bros., a later stage that Boyes demoed seemed to be largely influenced by Mega Man.

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This previously unseen stage took place on the rooftops of a European-style city. Robots on jetpacks dropped bombs on Kurt while others launched homing missiles at the poor kid. At one point Boyes used a light beam to send a missile flying back at the robot who shot it. This stage was overwhelmingly intense compared to the almost relaxing pace of the early stages. Boyes explained that the team has paced the game to ease players into the challenge rather than throwing them into chaos right at the outset.

I wasn't able to try out the two player co-op but the thought of playing through the game with one other person made my head hurt in a good way. Boyes said that Pid should be available for XBLA some time this summer. Possible summer of arcade title? "That's not up to us, but we'd love that," said Boyes. Either way, Pid is one downloadable title to keep an eye on.
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KrazyTaco1 on April 07, 2012
I can't wait
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