E3 2012: Pid, the 2D portal-powered platformer that failed to performPosted 8:36 pm on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 by Ryan Southard
E3 is sometimes a time of discovery, playing games you’re only familiar with via names, and maybe a picture or two. Pid was one of those games for me. All I knew about it was that it’s a 2D platformer, and that the main character is able to create force beams (or portals that shoot out gravity fields) on walls, floors, and ceilings. With that small bit of information, I booted up my E3 demo.
The basic gameplay has you lightly tossing balls of light that turn into gravity beams once they hit a wall or floor. You can ride these beams, move around within them, and cause objects or enemies to be moved by them. To cross a chasm of spikes, for example, you create a beam, let it lift you up, create another beam in front of you, and then jump to it. Another later section had two pillars, one on the left, and another on the right that was a bit taller. I had to first create a beam on the left pillar to go to the right. I rode beams back and forth between the pillars, slowly increasing my height until I could reach the top of the pillar on the right side. The slow ride back and forth was a bore. Knowing the entirety of a solution of a puzzle or objective long before you’re able to execute it can be a downer, and in this case it was. Later in the demo your power is increased a little bit, allowing you to aim and shoot your balls of light to areas that are out of reach of your normal tossing distance.
Pid’s core mechanic seems to have been inspired by the gravity beams found in Portal 2. What’s different is that Pid doesn’t seem to allow you to aim and shoot your gravity beams while you’re riding one. You can still toss them, but that limits what you can do. Might and Delight have a gameplay demo that shows quick clips of what is possible with the gravity beams, and while it seems kind of cool, once you get your hands on it, it’s just not as interesting. Sure you can cross a gap in five different ways, but how fun is the actual action of it? Personally, it just didn’t interest me much. The fact that the puzzles were just so-so didn’t help. In Portal 2, while you’re riding a gravity beam, you’re frantically searching around, trying to solve the puzzle. In Pid, you’re more likely to have already solved the puzzle before it even starts, leaving you with a dull ride, executing the already-solved puzzle that wasn’t interesting to begin with.
I faced off with a puzzle that, frankly, I was quite disappointed with. I was locked in an area. I can’t remember the exact color, but let’s just say that the vent on the ceiling was red. Out of it popped a red robot. Okay, great, now what do I do? I realized that what I was doing “wrong” was not noticing the door on the right side of the screen that was the same color as the rest of the area; it didn’t even look like there was a door there. What they should have done is make the door the same color as the robot that needed to enter it. I used an gravity beam on a diagonal floor which lifted the robot up to the door’s level, and then I was able to get through using the robot’s access. There were a few other times during my demo that I found parts of the background that looked like they could be jumped upon. These assumptions led to unnecessary deaths.
There was some fun to be had.
The most fun I had with the demo was a more action-filled segment that had me hopping across rooftops that were obviously inspired by Earthbound (heck, even the main character resembles Ness). I could use the gravity beams to direct rockets out of my path, and push enemies upwards and out of my way. That latter mechanic would work better if I had an gravity beam that only affects enemies, allowing me to go through it without being lifted up. Of course, you can also just use the tried-and-true jump to get past these enemies. There were enemies that flew overhead dropping projectiles, and some enemies had homing rockets. The gameplay kind of reminded me of Mega Man, but without the shooting. I was able to toss bombs at enemies, and you can toss bombs onto gravity beams as well, carrying them up towards flying enemies.
Overall, I can’t say that I was impressed by Pid. The puzzles weren’t interesting, and for a game whose worth is half focused on puzzles, that’s not a sound proposition. There are newer games that have renewed my faith in puzzles in video games; Uncharted 3 and Portal 2 are some of the best recent examples of developers doing awesome puzzles that you don’t feel like you’re slogging through; Puzzles that you’re actually interested in doing.
So you’re saying there’s a chance…
The funny thing about E3 is that demos sometimes don’t represent the products properly. You may get hyped up over a game based on the demo only to find that the final product is not worth playing through. It’s a tough call, but I’m still pessimistic about Pid. Parts of the demo were quite difficult, but I don’t think that had anything to do with how much I liked the game.Joe Danger: The Movie is another game that will be released at around the same time, with about the same amount of difficulty, and I had a lot more fun with that demo at E3. It could just be that I didn’t discover enough of the interesting ways to utilize the game’s core mechanic, who knows. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see when Pid is released on Steam, PSN and XBLA in the coming months.
Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it’s new or it’s old, as long as it’s awesome, he’ll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard