Pid (stylized ‘pid‘) is a really incredible little platformer by Might and Delight, the makers of Shelter.
In a world of thousands upon thousands of shitty-ass platformers, it’s so nice to find one that’s an actual, competently designed game.
Even rarer, pid’s strengths are in level design, mechanics, and pacing. I’ve mentioned before that a lot of indie platformers tend to lack a central gameplay thesis, a core mechanic they build off, instead opting to just bring mechanics in and out willy-nilly, making the game feel disjointed and like it lacks progression. Pid is the exact opposite. It knows very clearly what its main idea is and confidently builds off it as the game goes on, capably training you to get better and better. It actually reminded me a lot of Portal in that way.
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Pid is the story of a boy name Kurt, who falls asleep on his spacebus only to find himself trapped on a foreign planet. As he tries to get home, he discovers that something on the planet is Very Wrong, and if he wants to leave, he’ll have to figure out what.
The central mechanic is a little white orb Kurt finds underground, which creates pillars of antigravity you can use to help navigate the landscape. Like I said, the game really shines in mechanics and level design. But while it’s clever and logical, it’s not easy — this was a delightfully difficult game. Most if not all of the negative Steam reviews are people whining about it being too hard, but I played on Normal and thought it was absolutely perfect. It was that old-school, Super-Nintendo-style difficult, that relies on creative thinking and quick timing.
The game was great about getting you into a rhythm, and the physics were perfect: predictable, smooth, and logical. It made me think of a lot of the quick-time elements in Super Mario World’s later levels, where the platforms are tiny but once you get going and start counting time you can fly through it as long as you don’t think too hard. I love that kind of thing. You know it’s great gameplay when you find yourself doing complex maneuvers without even realizing how.
There were some people complaining about having to do the same sequences over and over, but
they’re bad at video games I found that once I figured out what to do, it took me only a couple of tries to execute — the difficulty really came from finding creative ways to get around. That’s not to say that sometimes I didn’t spend 10 minutes trying something doomed to failure only to have an ah-ha moment and realize I was doing it wrong, but once I got the solution I didn’t find the execution particularly punishing. And each room you complete autosaves, so with rare exceptions you’re never doing huge stretches at a time without checkpoints (and when you are, it’s very much designed to be possible). IDK, unless you’re playing on hard, which is designed to trip you up, I don’t really see how people were getting trapped unless they just couldn’t figure out the game’s logic.
I also really loved the bosses! The boss battles were great. That balloon guy, oh man, it took me two days to beat him but it was so satisfying when I won. Every boss was different while also being a logical outgrowth of the mechanics. Just great game design all around.
There was also a very cute story involving robots and opera and monarchy and saving the world and killing the moon. I think even a less well designed game could have been held up by this story, which again, was actually complete (and none of the multiple-ending nonsense), but I actually think it took a backseat to the game itself here.
For people who like their games stupifyingly difficult, there’s also some hidden objects throughout the game to collect. Oddly enough, despite my penchant for completionist runs, I didn’t get them, but I may go back and do a run on easy mode to round out my Steam achievements.
Anyway this was a really wonderful little game and I’m telling everyone about it so go play it!