It seems like a new 2D platformer comes out every single day. Although Adventures of Pip features some nifty new mechanics, does it have enough pixels to be a worthwhile adventure in such a crowded genre? Let's jump to it!
Pip's kingdom is a harsh one where citizens are judged not by the colour of their skin but by the amount of their pixels. More detailed folks lead lives of luxury while the less resolute have an unfair existence. Too bad Pip is nothing but a single red pixel. However, he feels compelled to prove his value when the kingdom becomes threatened by an evil queen. Graphically speaking, his adventure is filled with colourful characters and enemies that come alive with smooth animation. The many environments that he journeys through do a good job of distinguishing hazards and points of interest although they tend to lack variety. After you complete the first area, all of the subsequent areas all feel the same with only minor visual differences such as backgrounds and colour schemes. On a positive note, the epic orchestral score combines with satisfying 8-bit sound effects to create quite the pleasing soundscape. The last part of the presentation that stands out is the fantastic use of humour. It's quirky and suits the story and characters impeccably.
You control Pip through his 36 level adventure with basic platforming controls mixed with a unique shapeshifting mechanic. This ability allows Pip to evolve and devolve into three distinct versions of himself. The more detailed he is, the stronger yet less mobile he becomes. You can probably imagine the possibilities for platforming puzzles that this dynamic paves way for. Once you master all of the gameplay's intricacies, switching from a fully evolved Pip who slashes some tough blocks away then devolving in mid-air so you can cling to a wall just out of harm's way will give you quite the rush. Even figuring out simple predicaments such as having to devolve fully while at the bottom of a pool so you can shoot out from the water's surface into the air and reach a high platform rewards you with a sense of accomplishment. Considering there are many special moments like these (including a handful of awesome boss fights), you'll likely never become bored when you adventure with this little pixel. It's the sort of exciting stuff that we play games for.
Instead of just making it through level after level, there are a few distractions that'll keep perfectionists engaged. You earn pixels as you play which act as currency that you can exchange for permanent upgrades and temporary power-ups. Fully decking Pip out with cool gear will surely make him a force to be reckoned with. Besides this, there are three villagers just waiting to be found and rescued on each level. Wait a second, that means there are 108 of them. Is that a Suikoden reference? Anyway, a lot of these folks are easy to spot but many of them are either hidden quite well or in plain sight but difficult to reach. It isn't too challenging to rescue all of them which brings me to an unfortunate point; there really isn't anything left to do after completing the game and rescuing all of the villagers. If there was a new mode, difficulty setting, list of challenges, or leaderboards then players would have reasons to keep playing.
The last issue that should be discussed is that the checkpoint system can be unforgiving. This is especially prominent in the later levels. At times, you're forced to work your way through screens upon screens of difficult platforming in a row without failing just to make it to the next checkpoint. Of course, you could argue that gamers are spoiled nowadays and although that's undeniably true, it still doesn't take the frustration away from having to do so much all over again whenever you slip up.
Adventures of Pip is a solid title that stands out of the crowd with gameplay that's both interesting and enjoyable. With only a few downsides that are easy to overlook, I definitely recommend adventuring with Pip at least once in your lifetime.
- + Unique shapeshifting mechanic keeps the puzzle platformer gameplay exciting
- + Exceptional animation and orchestral score
- + Great quirky sense of humour
- - Environments all feel the same
- - Some checkpoints can be unfairly spaced
- - No replay value after completion besides rescuing all of the villagers