By Tyler Lubben / February 23rd, 2015
Adventures of Pip is a game that has interested me ever since I first saw it last fall. In fact, I was so interested that I decided to kick a few bucks its way while their Kickstarter campaign was still ongoing. The problem is that, while I was interested enough to want to get the game when it comes out, I was too stingy to get access to the various beta builds that Tic Toc Games gave out to higher-tired backers. So, while other people got plenty of early access enjoyment already, I had resigned myself to sit on the sidelines and wait for the full release. Lucky for me, I was given an opportunity to try out the build that the developer brought to PAX South earlier this year. So, what are my thoughts now that I got to try the game out for myself?
Right off the bat, I was a little disappointed to find that this demo wasn’t nearly as challenging as what I saw from videos of last year’s PAX East build. This seems like much more of a tutorial version of the game, with platforming sections and puzzles that are better meant to ease players into the mechanics than test their skills. I suppose I can understand that, and, while I did initially feel robbed of a chance to flex my platforming muscles, the game’s mechanics are pretty interesting and were fun to explore.
In case you haven’t paid attention in the past, Adventures of Pip tells the story of a kingdom in which the number of pixels you have indicates which caste you’re a part of. Pixel-heavy characters are members of the upper echelons, while 8-bit characters are relegated to the lives of farmers and other working-class jobs. The princess of this kingdom has a special power that allows her to create pixels out of thin air, an ability that soon catches the attention of the evil Skeleton Queen. The Queen attacks the kingdom and kidnaps the princess. While most of the kingdom’s residents were too afraid to challenge her, a young, single-pixeled boy named Pip is bold enough to fight the villainess and rescue the princess. Of course, bravery is one thing, but what can a single pixel possibly do in this world?
In case the title screen up top wasn’t clear, the main draw of Adventures of Pip is the ability to transform between Pip’s single-pixeled, 8-bit and 16-bit forms. Pixel Pip feels very much like a character straight out of Thomas Was Alone — a single square that can do little more than move and jump. Holding the Jump button in the air also allows him to slow his descent, making bigger leaps a bit easier. He can also jump on enemies to defeat them, which can also help with reaching higher platforms.
As players advance, they will eventually come across a ghostly knight called Elwyn who unlocks Pip’s other transformations. First up is the 8-bit Agile Pip. In this form, our hero moves much faster than his more primitive self, as well as gaining the ability to wall jump, hang from ledges and damage enemies with a melee attack. However, there are still obstacles that even Agile Pip can’t overcome, which is where Power Pip comes in. In this 16-bit form, Pip gains the use of a sword that has better range than Agile Pip’s punch, as well as letting him destroy special sword blocks. He is also able to use his superior girth to push and pull large blocks. Unfortunately, being so… detailed comes at a cost. Power Pip is much heavier than his earlier iterations, locking him out of his more advanced platforming skills.
To counteract this, players can freely devolve to Pip’s previous forms, allowing them to solve different problems as they arise. Need to jump up a narrow opening? Pop into Agile Pip and get climbing! Too big for a small opening ahead of you? Change back to Pixel Pip to fit through Morph Ball-style. Special enemies engulfed in mystical blue flames can be defeated to upgrade to later forms once again. Aside from trying to reach the end of the stage, players will also come across 8-bit villagers — colloquially known as Pixel Grannies (by me, at least) — whom they can rescue by touching, as well as treasure chests containing various jewels (or possibly pixels). It is unclear what either of these do at this point, but years of gaming have taught me that rescuing NPCs and collecting treasure is always a good idea.
From the town in the beginning to the forest to the crumbling temple that players explore through this demo, it was a fun — if not particularly challenging — experience. Players are introduced to each form that Pip can take and given a number of puzzles showing off their strengths and weaknesses. It’s certainly an interesting mechanic, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Tic Toc Games incorporates the ability to evolve and devolve into increasingly complex puzzles. If Adventures of Pip has piqued your interest, the game is currently planned to come out on PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PS4 this May.
Adventures of PipimpessionsJake KaufmanTic Toc Games