In Pid, Kurt is riding an interplanetary school bus when falls asleep during the long ride home. Unceremoniously dropped off on the wrong planet by the bus driver, he naturally wants to catch the next bus and get home. Unfortunately, the nearest bus stop hasn't seen a bus in years, but a local suggests heading to the big city and finding a bus there. And this is where our hero's journey begins.
Pid is a platform game in the classic sense, and as such your goal is to get from the entrance of an area to the exit without falling victim to the traps, bottomless pits, and enemies that fill those areas. As you can probably guess, these areas are collected into themed zones with a boss waiting for you at the end.
Pid takes this classic formula and adds a unique mechanic to it; the ability to create beams of light that act as anti-gravity wells. You create these beams by dropping or tossing a little glowing ball at the floor or a wall which will stick to the surface and generate a beam for a few seconds. When you step into the beam it will carry you along like a conveyer belt until you hop out of it or it expires and disappears. The beams are primarily used to avoid traps and reach otherwise inaccessible places, but they can also be used for convenient tricks such as pushing an enemy into a wall of spikes. You can have two beams active at once, and often you'll need to use them both placed at different angles and levels to navigate your way past traps and obstacles.
It's an interesting and novel game mechanic, but eventually it feels like the game is using it as a crutch. Before too long you'll have seen all of the types of puzzles that the game will throw at you, and after that point they're variations on the theme with not enough variation. The game gives you hours of gameplay that will run into the low double digits. While this is pretty darn good for a downloadable platform title, more creativity in the level design would have made this extra time feel more enjoyable and less like a chore. It seems like the game tries to rely more on its charm than its gameplay to carry players through to the end.
I do have to give the game credit for that charm, though. The game does ooze charm with its unique otherworldly look and its population of odd characters that look like they've escaped from a Picasso painting during his cubist phase.
However, a game needs to be more than just a pretty face, and there are a few other issues that keep the game from being a keeper. One of these issues is that each room in the game is separated by a load screen. Reach an exit, load screen, reach the next, load screen ... nothing kills charm like constantly being taken out of the game's world to wait for the next room to load.
And then there's the game's level of difficulty. Part of it is due to the controls which feel just sluggish enough while jumping and changing direction to make things difficult for you. There are too many times when you'll be expected to nail the landing on a tiny platform and you'll fail because of the controls and unforgiving edge detection.
The difficulty ramps up from there when you get to the boss fights. Bosses have a lot of health and they're attacks are all one-hit kills to you. You can mitigate that a bit by buying a protective vest from a vending machine with the stars you've collected while making your way through the levels, but not by much. When you die, and you'll die a lot, you have to start all over again. The control issues also work against you. It's hard to dodge missiles and other attacks when they're far faster and more maneuverable than you are, and surviving a boss fight often involves reaching items or safe spots that require a degree of deftness that the controls struggle to achieve.
I wanted to like Pid more than I did, but the charm of the graphics, story, and the game's world just weren't enough to get me past the game's frustrating elements and feel of repetition. More work on the game's controls and play balance, and maybe perhaps even shortening the length a bit, would have gone a long way towards making Pid a more enjoyable experience.
Final Rating: 68%. Looks and charm alone aren't enough to make Pid a keeper.