Pode takes us on a journey of friendship; it’s an indie puzzle game developed by Henchman & Goon, a title which launched on Nintendo Switch in summer last year, and it has finally made its way onto PS4, not a moment too soon.
From the very get-go, Pode is very cute. You follow the story of Glo, a fallen star and Bulder, a rock who takes it upon itself to help Glo return home. The personification of both characters is done without any dialogue, instead the characters communicate through chirps and gestures that are conveyed perfectly and easily understood – Neither Glo or Bulder will leave an area without holding hands with the other (yes, you can have them hold hands, I told you it was cute), they will stand in the doorway and wave their arms around until you reunite them once again.
The game wants you to succeed, it doesn’t try and trick you and there’s nothing that will trip you up or cause you to die; the game forgoes a death mechanic, if you manage to mess up and fall down, it pops you right back up on a ledge to carry on.
Everything you need to complete a puzzle will be right there in front of you, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first glance; beautiful runes and art adorn the walls giving helpful hints as to what you should be doing to carry on your adventure. As either character you can alter the environment, Glo is uniquely green fingered and will cause plants to blossom in particularly helpful locations and Bulder has control over other rocks and geodes that he summons across the map. Some of the later puzzles were a little fiddly but as a whole, the game has a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere, I never found myself cursing at any of the puzzles or getting overly frustrated at any point.
The graphical style, while simple, is enchantingly beautiful, lighting and sometimes the lack of, is used wonderfully to create atmosphere, especially as the aptly named Glo lets off a faint ball of light in their wake, illuminating things that you otherwise might have missed. The score in Pode does wonders for amplifying the relaxed vibe, following the minimalist style the whole game exudes, the music twinkles in the background as you progress, never once demanding to be heard, but a constant presence of calm nonetheless.
You’re able to play Pode solo, seamlessly jumping between characters to help crack the puzzles in front of you, or you can have somebody else join you in game. While both options play just as well, the latter of the two is how the game feels like it should be played – it is a game about friendship and teamwork after all.
Pode is a captivating puzzle game for when you want to sit back relax and emerge yourself in a world of hope, kindness and charming characters. Glo and Bulder are unlikely friends but by working together, they overcome all of the hurdles in their way and continue on their adventure together, hand in hand, and delightfully adorable.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*