Pode, by independent developer Henchman & Goon, is an amazing co-operative platform puzzle game that has been inspired by Norwegian culture. Available on PlayStation and Nintendo Switch this exploration game is quite simply amazing and a breath of fresh air to me.
Pode features two main characters; a little rock called Bulder and a fallen star called Glo, together they must work together as they wander through the mysterious and magical Mount Fjellheim in a mission to help Glo get back into the sky. Incidentally, Pode is Norwegian for “Graft”!
Playing as either two-player co-op or in single player you must utilise each of the character’s special abilities in order to activate and reach the exit on each level. In the early stages, the basics of movement and jumping are taught before moving onto Glo’s ability to teleport and activate switches. Bulder on the other hand, being a rock, is more suited to activating pressure pads, being a bunk up for Glo to reach higher platforms, and bizarrely, putting Glo in his mouth to either fire across gaps or to allow teleportation.
Similar in a way to Portal, the abilities are easily mastered but despite this, the levels have been so well designed that you will still find the solution at times somewhat devilish to suss out. When you do finally discover the correct methodology and subsequent exit you will kick yourself.
As you try and fathom out the puzzles, both Glo and Bulder can transform the cavern scenery; growing colourful flowers, creeping vines and large pond lilies as well as causing vibrant crystals to emerge from the ground decorating the ledges, cliffs and walls.
When playing in co-operative mode the camera is led by one of the characters, therefore it is easy on some of the larger levels to accidentally go too far and lose the other player off the screen. Thankfully by tapping L3, both players can fight over who the camera looks at. Another great feature is the ability to swap control of characters at any point during the game. Should your friend or partner struggle with a certain part of a level, or even if you fancy a change of play, a quick button press can put you in control of their character and allow you to carry on playing, this helps eliminate the need of handset swapping when difficulties arise and keeps the gameplay smooth.
Pode is a very relaxing game to play, there are no time limits or lives to worry about losing, just chill in the absorbing Nordic atmosphere and explore the various levels.
As you complete a set of levels, you return back to a central cavern buried deep within the mountain. Using both Glo and Bulder’s skills together helps to reveal secret passageways which are entrances to the next set of levels. There are 8 sets of levels to play through, that require specific character abilities to solve. It may seem that Glo is having all the action for a few levels, however, later on it does become balanced with Bulder taking central stage. I absolutely love the teamwork that is required in Pode. It is all very well thought out and quite unique when compared with a lot of today’s offerings.
I love Pode’s graphics. The scenery is bright and vibrant and there is something very calming and natural about it all. The crisp waters of the ponds look inviting and the extra touches of decoration that both Glo and Bulder add to each level bring the caverns to life. Just don’t forget that Bulder is a rock and can’t swim in deep water!
Pode’s background music is by Austin Wintory (Assasins Creed Syndicate, Journey, Monaco) and chills you right out with its soft guitar playing and haunting vibes as you explore the magical mountain. Have a listen to the main Pode tune below!
[bandcamp width=100% height=42 album=3385276413 size=small bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5]
Pode is a wonderful and at times tricky puzzle game which really gets you thinking. My wife and I loved playing through all of the chambers however it only took us around 6 hours to complete. Ok, there are collectibles along the way in the form of fireflies that require one of the characters to use their ability to explode a plant pod or rock in order to release them, however as far as the main story goes, it is quite short.
That said, the fun and laughter that we had along the way was unforgettable. There was one moment in a level whereby my wife failed spectacularly to reach a platform. At first it was a little bit frustrating, however, it soon turned into hilarity as she failed in a different way every time, going on for several minutes. It was a bit like when Chief Inspector Clouseau tries to infiltrate Dreyfuss’s castle and it keeps on going wrong in a more crazy way. We were both crying tears of laughter over the event, footage of which will be uploaded soon!
Overall Pode scores highly in my eyes, it is a beautiful masterpiece and is so calming to play. If it wasn’t for the 6 hours of gameplay and the £18.99 price tag it would have a platinum trophy. If content is added then I will upgrade my score however, for now, Pode scores a prestigious Gold Thumb Culture Award.
Disclaimer: A review code was received in order to write this article.