I think we’ve all gotten off at the wrong bus stop at one point or another, and the experience can be anywhere from annoying to positively harrowing. In Pid, your little spaceboy Kurt falls asleep on a bus and ends up on a planet of robots, where the buses haven’t been running for 300 years. In his journey to find some way off the rock, he comes across a shining gem that creates pillars of levitating force. But someone isn’t happy about him having it, and sends a veritable army of robot minions to chase him down.
How’s that for a puzzle platform hook? Pid compliments its children’s book premise with appropriately soft pastel visuals, collectible stars, and goofy characters. The presentation is the real stand-out here, making each level appear inviting and mysterious and charming all at once. The soundtrack is both subdued and peppy when it needs to be, and there’s some cute writing on display with the NPCs and cutscenes. It’s really everything you could ask for in an indie platformer.
The lavish charm makes the game’s intense difficulty all the more jarring when it starts smashing you against spikes and explosives. Pid wastes no time in wasting you, pitting you against tiny platforms and precise timing puzzles in the first hour. The levitation is a clever gimmick done well, but you’ll have to master it in a hurry to survive. You’ll also gain a number of supporting abilities and items including bombs and super jumps that will need to be used to their fullest. Stars you find are used to replenish expendable abilities, but even if you’re completely awful at the game you shouldn’t run out.
Levels abound with secrets, but by the time you reach the city they’ll likely be too frustrating to sniff out. I kept running into annoyances like secrets you only get one chance at, spoiled by checkpointing or unscaleable heights. The clever and colorful bosses offer yet another source of frustration, since they have very long lifebars and patterns but you can only take one or two hits before dying and starting the whole thing over. There are challenge rooms beyond the lengthy story mode as well, but even the very first set required pin-point precision to complete, let alone get the par or challenge time.
I wish I could recommend Pid without reservation, I really do. I adore everything about how it looks and sounds. But it suffers from that most common affliction among indie games, a poor difficulty curve. I still say it’s worth a try, because if you have the time to devote to it you can surely overcome its challenges. Just don’t go into it thinking it’s as friendly as it looks.