PAX West 2018: Pode

Friday, September 7th, 2018

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There’s no shortage of couch co-op games these days, with games such as Brothers – A Tale of Two SonsOvercooked, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, and more. Now, Norwegian developer Henchman & Goon is making their own approach to the genre, with cute co-op adventure game Pode. I was initially supposed to demo the game at PAX this year alongside Josh, but due to a series of scheduling errors I ended up playing the game myself with the developer. This may have made some of the puzzles easier than they would’ve been ordinarily – although she didn’t help me directly, she dropped the occasional subtle hint that I was doing something wrong through positioning and her general actions. I would’ve liked to try the game with someone who was a blank slate like I was, but unfortunately the scheduling just didn’t work out that way.

Pode | Door puzzle

Pode is a co-op puzzle-adventure game, reminiscent of the aforementioned Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons. The players control Glo, a fallen star trying to find its way home, and Bulder, a stone spirit showing Glo the way back through Mount Fjellheim. The art style is inspired by traditional Norwegian art, with beautiful environments that respond to the use of Glo and Bulder’s respective powers: Glo able to grow plants, and Bulder able to create and control rocks and crystal formations. These abilities, along with others and the characters physical traits, are the primary basis for the puzzles in Pode. It’s defninitely not anything that hasn’t been done before – I’ll bring up Brothers yet again – but Pode sets itself apart with an original premise, beautiful art style, and focus on friendship and teamwork.

Pode | Chasm

In addition to being fully playable single-player (although I didn’t get to try it in my demo), Pode also features the somewhat unique ability for either player to switch control of the characters at any time with a single button. The main uses I can imagine for this particular function are mainly either messing with each other by switching characters at random, or by taking over and doing a puzzle yourself if you know what to do and get frustrated by watching your partner failing constantly. The puzzles themselves are enjoyable to solve, helped by the gorgeous scenery you often get to see after solving something successfully. There are also collectibles for each character to find throughout each stage, encouraging players to explore each area beyond just solving the puzzles needed to progress.

Pode | Handholding

As far as recent couch co-op games go, Pode seems like one of the better ones I’ve tried. The puzzles seem like they’re as well-crafted as any other – although it was I may not have gotten the best impression of them with the developer’s accidental hints – but the beautiful graphics, music (composed by Journey composer Austin Wintory), and themes make the game unique and worth checking out, especially if you’ve got a friend to play it with. If you’re interested in trying out Pode, the game is already available on Switch. There’s a release on PS4 set for this fall, with a PC version following in 2019.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.