Cooperative adventures are a great way to make gaming memories with a friend. Pode has you and a pal control a couple of little cuties within a living underground world so invite someone over and get ready for an adorable journey.
Pode puts you and a friend in control of Bulder and Glo. The story is about the fact that Glo is a fallen star who wants to go home and Bulder decides to give her a helping hand. The two find themselves within a lost underground civilisation and must work together in order to solve its mysteries. You do this by giving each other boosts and interacting with the environment. Whenever you hold the Magnetize button for Bulder or the Shine button for Glo, they emit an aura that alters their surroundings in a delightful way. For example, Bulder can unearth shiny rocks that make beautiful formations and Glo can melt ice and make vegetation grow. Watching the environments gradually come to life throughout the massive world of Pode is incredibly satisfying and even though you can play solo, enjoying it with a friend makes it a much more fulfilling experience.
Pode's visuals aren't amazing but the amount of imagination that's poured into the two chums and their world is undeniably charming. Watching the little fellows run around and occasionally express themselves is so cute. The most adorable part is when you hold hands to pass through certain scenarios. The sound is well done, too, with a relaxing and subtle soundtrack that helps make the gameplay even more enjoyable. Plus, the cute sound effects add a layer of satisfaction to traversing Pode's memorable world.
The campaign in Pode is surprisingly lengthy with an elaborate central hub that branches out into 8 large puzzle-filled areas that have about 5 rooms of varying sizes each. Keep in mind; some rooms are enormous and super-tricky so they can take quite some time to work through. Along the way, you'll discover secrets and collectibles in the form of murals and sparkles. Thankfully, you can warp to any specific room at any time via the in-game menu with progress intact so uncovering absolutely every collectible is intuitively handled. As you advance through the campaign, you'll also encounter innovative new mechanics that help diversify the gameplay such as an item that allows you to teleport wherever you leave it. In the end, it's one large and varied campaign that'll take a long time to master.
Even though the campaign is substantial and full of nifty puzzles, two major issues regularly get in the way of the fun. First, cooperative games are much more enjoyable when you can progress together without having to solve obscure "think outside the box" puzzles. However, Pode will regularly have you and your friend scratching your heads as you try and work out just how to advance. Having to almost constantly think in abstruse ways like this can be more frustrating than fun. Along the same lines, the environments themselves can be incredibly ambiguous considering you can't rotate the camera. Sometimes, rocks might be in your way without you realising it and other times, platforms might seem to line up but they actually don't. I wish the visuals were more clear-cut in this sense.
Pode is a solid cooperative experience but its frustrating aspects unfortunately hold it back from being a great game. That being said, if you can't get enough cute co-op adventures then you certainly won't regret at least giving it a try.
- + Gradually bringing life to the game world is super-satisfying, especially with a pal
- + Cute visuals and beautiful soundtrack
- + Large campaign with rewarding collectibles
- - Progress often relies on abstruse thinking which counteracts the co-op dynamic
- - Environments can look ambiguous and thus cause needless frustration