After our interview about Pode, Henchman & Goon sent us a review code.
Pode is a puzzle game about a fallen star that teams up with a rock in order to find its way home. Together, the two set out to climb a mountain so the star can return to the sky. However, this isn’t just any mountain, but a mountain filled with puzzles. To overcome them and proceed through each chamber, you’ll need to make use of the characters’ abilities. Glo (the star) can bring plants to life and eventually teleport, while Bulder (the rock) can magnetize switches and pick up items. Figuring out where and how to use their abilities is key.
Pode uses simple tutorials with no text, which leads to some unclear gameplay mechanics at first – it takes some experimentation to see how you can use Glo and Bulder’s skills together. Lack of clarity is Pode’s biggest issue. At one point, I managed to move to a new area without completing a tutorial, and in another case, the forgiving respawn system let me circumvent a puzzle (and therefore fail to grasp the gameplay mechanic it was intended to teach me).
This is important, because Pode’s puzzles can be quite challenging and require you to really pay attention to the environment. In addition to the basic traversal puzzles, there are also more complex puzzles at the end of each section. However, aside from one puzzle that gets tedious due to the precise positioning it requires, they always feel fair once you understand the goal.
As you explore, you’ll bring plants to life and make crystals spring up from the earth. You’ll also uncover collectibles, challenging you to search every corner, and a handy fast-travel menu lets you return to any past area to collect the ones you missed. Even without the collectibles, part of the joy of Pode comes from watching a drab cave transform into beauty.
It’s difficult for a game with no text to show a bond between characters, but Pode pulls it off. The way the two characters hold hands, urgently wave if you try to leave an area without the other, and smile at each other in scenes sold me on the growing friendship between them. While not story-driven, there is a sweet narrative at work here.
Pode can be played either solo or co-op. If you play alone, you’ll have to switch between characters to solve the puzzles, while co-op gameplay will demand teamwork and communication. Either way, it’s an enjoyable game with cute characters and beautiful environments, challenging puzzles, and a few flaws that don’t pull down the overall experience.