Nintendo really hit it big with its newest Switch console. Not only did it successfully unite handheld and home consoles, but also singleplayer and cooperative titles, especially the sort that we call “couch co-op”. Pode is one of the games that pay homage to the classic co-op games, with its fantastic gameplay elements.
Simply speaking, Pode is an exploration puzzle game. You play as a rock called Bulder and a fallen star Glo. Using their unique abilities, the two of them have to solve ancient riddles in order to get to the top of Mount Fjellheim.
The best thing about Pode is that, although there’s an epic quest in the core of the game, there’s no sense of urgency. That’s especially felt during playing in a pair, where you and your buddy can sit back and enjoy working things out at your own pace in an ultra-chill, unhurried atmosphere.
Your friend and you can take the part of two interesting creatures. Bulder is the muscles of the duo, a big, heavy rock with the ability to eat and spit out items (who said Kirby?), move heavy blocks, sink in water, press down buttons, crack open hard seed pods and grow rock cavities. On the other hand, Glo is personified light and has no weight, but he can grow plants, activate flower mechanisms, can glide and walk on water, and illuminate symbols on the walls.
Some of the puzzles are quite obvious, but the game spends most of the time in huge rooms that hide tiny secrets and details that are easy to overlook.
Speaking of looks, Pode has very interesting visuals. In some other games, simple colors combined with huge rooms would create a dull affair, but developer studio Henchman & Goon made the color contrast so intense and vivid, you can’t help but feel awestruck. Similar things happen with animation, with all those flowers blooming, plants growing, and general outbursts of flora all over the levels.
While you’re going through the said levels, you’ll get new mechanics for each character. These new abilities prevent you from getting too familiar with the gameplay, which would inevitably lead to boredom. With new abilities come new strategies, and you’ll need to strain the gears inside your head in order to overcome some challenges in the game.
As much as this game is enjoyable to play with another person, playing Pode in single-player is a bit tedious. You have to use both Bulder and Glo and to constantly switch between them to complete the tasks. It is possible to do, but it’s not even a bit as fun as doing it in a pair. Another thing that might bother the players is a static camera. Sometimes the view is very obscured, especially when the room is full of overgrown flora. The camera does a great job following you, but you can’t control it in any way.
Despite its flaws, this game is supremely fun to play in pairs, which is something that’s really missing from today’s games. Pode is a beautifully simple and fun game, and its challenging levels and relaxed atmosphere will attract young and old gamers alike.