As someone with a significant other who also is a gamer, it’s always nice when I can find games that we can enjoy together. Sure there are plenty of online games today that we can play together but I prefer a game that we can sit next to each other and play through together. Indie developer Henchman & Goon has a new title out now that is perfect for just that and it’s called Pode. Pode is a cute, colorful 3D platformer that has you working together (or alone if you really want) to solve puzzles and make it to the end of the adventure.
Pode tells the story of Glo, a fallen star who enlists the help of a rock named Bulder. These two together set out to make their way through the inside of Mount Fjellheim and reach the top. I took control of Bulder while my wife played as Glo in our playthrough. The game has a main hub like area that contains eight different sectors and each of them has five levels so you get quite a lot to play through here. During these levels you’ll find that both Glo and Bulder each have their own abilities that you’ll have to make use of in different situations. Bulder is able apply weight to pressure sensitive pads, carry Glo or blocks in its mouth, and can go through small holes found in walls. Glo meanwhile can light up dark rooms and has teleportation powers. I really like how their names correspond to their actual abilities.
They can also both interact with things in the environment such as plants and rocks. Holding the R2 button allows either character to emit an aura that when in contact with things like rocks or plants, causes the environment to spring to life. Plants will bloom and grow from Glo’s aura while Bulder’s aura causes rocks to clump together in different formations. It’s really quite magical to watch the levels come to life through these abilities. Levels also have collectibles to seek out and find and you can easily go back and snag any that you may miss on your first run. Now this game is all about the puzzles and platforming and while it does both of these right a lot of the time some of the other bits are a miss. Platforming at times can be a bit annoying due to the camera in the game. You can’t control it and sometimes it really just gave us a bad angle and made it hard to tell whether we could make a certain jump or walk a certain way. The puzzles start off pretty simple and gradually got harder the further we got into the game sometimes to the games detriment. I like some challenge in my puzzles but Pode has some that really don’t do a good job of providing clear instructions and caused us to be stuck for quite awhile. We did eventually prevail though and after a few hours we finally reached the end of the game.
The visuals here are one of the reasons worth picking this game up. A dull, lifeless world springs to life with Norwegian artistry when Glo and Bulder use their abilities. My wife and I both had smiles on our faces while playing and she really enjoyed when the two characters held eachother’s hand while walking in certain areas. Pode also has a calm, enjoyable soundtrack that really fits the tone of the game along with great sound effects. Austin Wintory handled the music in this game and I’m a big fan of his work in other similar games such as Journey, Abzu, and Tooth and Tail.
In terms of value here that really is up to each individual’s taste. Pode does have a higher cost of entry than many other indie games but we really enjoyed our experience with it. You can play the whole game by yourself if you want but it’s probably a bit more trickier to control both characters alone. Like I said it took us only a few hours to finish it and there isn’t a whole lot to go back and replay it for. The game has only 9 trophies on PlayStation 4 with no Platinum sadly. You’ll get all of the trophies for beating the game, gathering all the collectibles, and for growing a certain amount of plants and rocks.
Henchman & Goon have crafted a fine puzzle, platformer in Pode. We loved the characters of Glo and Bulder and despite some frustrating puzzles and a disagreeable camera, we always felt motivated to push through to see them to the end of their journey. Some may find the game to be too short for them but for my wife and I the visuals, music, and story was worth the few hours that Pode lasted.
*Pode is out now on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Fantastic visuals that you help bring to the game world
- Relaxing soundtrack composed by Austin Wintory, great sound effects
- Using your different abilities to work through the levels together is fun
- Camera gets in the way of platforming at times
- Some of the puzzles solutions aren't really clear
- May be too short for some people