Pode is an excellent coop puzzle game, and an ideal respite in a year of post-apocalyptic epics and online loot shooters. Sublime level design and elegantly simple puzzle mechanics make it a pleasure to play while its bright, beautiful visuals and Pixar-esque protagonists illuminate each level with vibrancy and charm.
Falling from the sky and meeting by happenstance, your two little heroes, who I nicknamed SparkleBoy and GravelPants, venture off to reach the highest peak in the land. Familiar with the simple controls, I emerged in a dull and dingy chamber of muted brown rock. Pressing the right trigger when prompted, SparkleBoy suddenly began to emanate a warm glow. To my delight, a plume of twirling flora blossomed before me. Switching to GravelPants, I tried the same input, and this time glistening shards of blue crystal erupted from the ground.
This sense of wonder is at the core of Pode. Each new area I entered I found myself running around like an excited kid, the right trigger firmly held down as great swathes of luscious plant-life pirouetted in paisley formations and luminous crystalline fragments jolted and jutted from the rock. The way each area bursts to life is ceaselessly joyous and magical, and while its effect looks stunning, this glow mechanic is central to the traversing the game’s many superbly designed puzzles. SparkleBoy’s aura lights up symbols, lets him glide over gaps and springs leaf platforms to life, opening up new paths. GravelPants’ gleam lets him trigger switches and unveil secret collectibles while his ability to carry blocks and weigh down levers proves indispensable.
Each of the four stages consist of two levels which themselves are split into 6 puzzle rooms. Your goal with each level is to collect the seed at the end, allowing you to make the Mother Plant grow further up the mountain to reach the next stage. With each area being its own self-contained puzzle, your sense of progression is consistently rewarding, whether you play in short bursts or long sessions. This structure also ensures puzzle complexity is perfectly paced, introducing twists on familiar mechanics and all new abilities, like teleportation, at just the right time to keep each new area fresh and engaging.
Distinct themes make each area feel unique and varied, while strong art design ties them all together with a cohesive style. The elements that define these areas are also cleverly implemented into gameplay, challenging you to rethink your approach to puzzles. A water-based level has SparkleBoy floating on the water’s surface while GravelPants walks on the floor below, and a pitch-black level has you switching back and forth to light the way ahead. A few puzzles did have me baffled, and while some solutions are a bit obscure or overly finicky, the resolution was usually gratifying and logical.
Whether played solo or in couch coop, Pode is a sublimely well designed cooperative puzzle game. The game’s gorgeous art style, charming soundtrack and story and perfectly paced challenge provide 4-5 hours of immensely rewarding and relaxing fun.
Pode PS4 Review
Pode is a near perfect puzzler. A gorgeous art style and delightful story fill the game with charm while sublime level design and elegantly simple puzzle mechanics make it a pleasure to play.
- Gorgeous art style and plenty of charm.
- Excellent, varied level design.
- Elegantly simple puzzle mechanics and a well balanced challenge.
- Couch coop.
- Some overly finicky puzzle solutions.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
Max is a lover of games, fine whisky and dogs with soft faces. Often seeking out games Chris dubs “artsy sh*t”, some say Max has a refined taste, while others simply consider him pretentious. Wherever you stand on the matter, he undeniably writes words. His other hobbies including leading a cult, touching dog’s faces and telling everyone he is vegan.