Review: Pode – A starcrossed adventure

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Pode is a charming same-couch cooperative play title by Norweigan developer Henchman & Goon. This charming adventure has players take on the role of Bulder and Glo as they adventure through the world in order to unite Glo with their family.


Pros:
+Extremely beautiful use of level design and character animations
+No one room for each puzzle is exactly the same
+Cooperative play is a means to success in the title
+Extremely beautiful no matter what size TV you are on

Cons:
-Hard to play while in tablet mode
-Camera angels should be allowed to be slightly changed based on player choices.


In an era where competitive games are all the rage and everyone in town is talking about them, there’s a lot of games that get brushed under the rug and left out in the heat as summer continues on. The ever-growing library of Nintendo Switch games in recent days is proof of this phenomenon of online gaming. It boasts one of the strongest libraries for players taking to online titles ranging from the frantic three minutes of inking as much turf as possible with Nintendo’s title Splatoon 2 or the blue shell throwing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and players even taking to the arena with their Pokémon focused fighting game Pokkén Tournament DX.

While online multiplayer is a tried-and-true formula, there are still games that do quite well with the current gaming climate and somehow deliver some of the most unique titles on the market. One such title is Pode, a cute little cooperative puzzle title brought to life by a small Norwegian team called Henchman & Goon. It’s a game that manages to bring that good old-fashioned same-couch co-op back to life and compels you to work with a friend, family member, or loved one to complete each challenge that is placed before you.

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Unlike many games, Pode is a relaxing title; one that is built around the idea of friendship and teamwork and it’s a title that benefits the most from those playing it to be side-by-side on a couch or in the same room together. Each of you will take control of Glo and Bulder, a fallen star and a rock, and together, you will embark on a mystical (and let me tell you now, it’s often a very emotional) journey to help Glo return to their home. Because of their distinct traits and abilities, overcoming a puzzle and or a challenge or two will remind you that working as a team is paramount to your success.

Often times, puzzles can’t be completed without one player completing the task without the help of the other. Much like titles such as BrothersDeath Squared, and Tiny BrainsPode is a title that sits with cooperative play at its core. It’s a rather welcomed theme that changes the landscape of recently released games and one that doesn’t ease up from that very fact from start to finish.

Unlike Bulder, Glo has the ability to bring life back to dormant wildlife by using the ‘ZR’ button. When you do, you can bring things such as flowery ledges, beautiful fauna and even rocks that form as Bulder comes near them.  Each and every puzzle requires players to coordinate what they are done, some requiring Bulder to be tossed by Glo while others require Glo to stand upon Bulder for a boost. These mechanics and platforms coming to life before you are astounding as you play through the game.

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The graphics, the details, all of it is absolutely brilliant, gorgeous even. Whether it’s Glo carefully tiptoeing across the water only to float downstream to hard-to-reach platforms or Buldur can move gigantic rocks, moving them out of the way in order to trigger switches and even grow so that Glo can traverse across the terrain as needed be. Thanks to their abilities, both being polar opposite of one another, each character is entirely unique in the way they act, the talents they have, and the things that they can do.

Unlike Bulder, Glo can’t go through areas such as waterfalls, so to clear an area, Buldur must go first, making way for Glo to follow, but this even means that the opposite also exists. Glo must be able to help Bulder across bodies of water and areas Bulder normally can’t go through in order to ensure they both can move across a cave such as the need to enhale stones that are needed in order to trigger a switch that might be just ahead.

But to add a spin on things, both Glo and Bulder gain new abilities as you move forth with your journey. As you seek to reunite Glo with their family, each new ability you unlock will systematically change the way you approach a puzzle and even allows for an increasing difficulty in how puzzles will be solved. Due to just how unique they are, we are going to opt from telling you how and let you discover this on your very own. However, do take this in mind. The game can be very unforgiving for those not working together, which means, you need to work together in order to succeed.

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Luckily, the real charm in this game is the cooperative play, the story you and your partner will share as you move forth in the game. As you complete every puzzle, a sense of accomplishment will come over you, allowing you to feel accomplished with every bit of completion you have made. This means that the game doesn’t just challenge you, it wants you to know that you overcame the odds that faced you down.

Every bit of the game has an overwhelming sense of detail put into it. Whether it’s the beautifully designed scenery, characters, maps, rocks, the animations for the flora and fauna that spring to life as you walk on by, all of it snaps perfectly together whether you are on a 4K tv or a tv that runs in 1080p. That game is absolutely gorgeous and looks to be one of the strongest yet on the Nintendo Switch as far as visual fidelity and performance standards go.

But do take note, the game is capped at 30fps and runs astonishingly well as you would imagine. However, it is worth also noting, Pode doesn’t run as one would hope on such a small screen. It’s extremely easy to miss any small detail needed for the puzzles that you look to complete. You need the ability to see the world about you, to watch everything as the levels before you begin to unfold. Don’t fret though. Pode is a beautiful, carefully crafted title, one that makes the idea of overly used and uninspired caves. Instead, we are given a game that has been diligently designed, one that wants to stand out from its peers.

Pode – Nintendo Switch
Developer: Henchman & Goon
Publisher: Henchman & Goon
Release Date: Now Available
Cost: $24.99

Ultimately, it works and provides us with an experience we’ve never before seen. An experience that is charming, one that’s gorgeous and often thought-provoking while working with another to complete the game before you. To accommodate this, camera angles aren’t crude or problematic, each of them works just as one would hope and ensures fans with a fun and highly enjoyable game.

Pode offers a display of unique gameplay, a strikingly profound use of art and sound direction, and even giving us a beautiful story that can easily sit among some of the most meaningful games in history ranging from Journey to the emotional, but simple tale of games like Flower. Here, we have it, a tale of friendship, companionship, and ultimately, the hardships that people will overcome together in the world.


Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 8 out of 10


About the Writer(s):

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 


David_Murphy_Vault_BoyDavid Murphy is B.A.T.G.R.’s behind the scenes man who helps get things up and going as well as keeping things in order. Don’t  be surprised to know that the old man contributes rather heavily to editing, news, and information he digs up so that editorials as well as articles are done properly. He also likes Fallout… A lot. We’re not sure he’s not secretly the Vault Boy in disguise.

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