Companionship, we are always looking for it, be it in form of friendships, family, colleagues at work… A lover. We like to think we need only ourselves but when we feel empty and alone it’s companionship that saves us, picks us up and reminds us: it’s ok.
Without companionship, I doubt I’d be here, writing this very article, for you.
Pode is a 3D puzzle game developed by Henchman and Goon. You play as Bulder (rock character) and/or Glo (Light character) who explore an ancient ruin of a lost civilization to help Glo return home. Each character has their own unique abilities to help to solve the puzzles littered within the game, however many of the puzzles rely on both characters working together.
As this game is best played as a couch co-op experience you can also play it single-player with the capability of switching characters on the fly.
Both characters influence the world differently, with Bulder controlling rock formations and Glo blooms life in the environments that you help traverse the levels. Each character are opposites, and this is shown through the mechanics; this even extends to some of the slight physic-based puzzles too. It adds to the game an emotional depth, through the gameplay, which is rarely seen in others – one can’t simply complete a level without the other and this is further expressed by using each other as a platform to reach inaccessible areas.
Graphically the game has a very minimalistic style yet it’s utterly gorgeous, taking inspiration from Norwegian art and nature. It has this painted look using a lot of flat tones and colours, where these darker tones combine with brighter lush primary colours. It complements the gameplay by enhancing the relaxing gameplay experience. You’ll find yourself as Glo wanting to bloom life in the whole level just to add the bright colour pallet unfurl in a hollow and lifeless landscape; a great mechanical metaphor of the game’s central themes.
It’s hard to talk about the game because it’s fairly basic, but that’s the point. Minimalism is the heart of the design. Why you ask? So, it doesn’t distract from its main point, companionship. With a button to hold the other character’s hand, we see a game that’s inherently positive. You can’t help being touched by the game when you see these two opposite characters slowly begin to understand each other – especially in today’s social division. You can’t help but smile to yourself at those little tender moments.
Talking with Linn Sovig, the Marketing/Publishing Manager for Henchman and Goon, Linn explained the concept came about so that parents could play a game with their children that they could enjoy. That they both could experience the same positivity together and that they must interact with each other not just through the game’s mechanics, but verbally too.
Linn told me that there are hidden sections within the game and that these hidden sections are each dedicated to loved ones lost during the development cycle.
There is so much heart within this game, so much love and you indulge in the same passion while playing. You can play this game solo, but you will be robbing yourself the entire purpose of this game.
What Henchman and Goon have created here is a rarity within video gaming, something you feel. I urge anyone who plays games with people to buy this game and just experience the warmth the game has to offer.
Pode is out now on Switch with a PlayStation 4 port currently in development. Enjoy and remember what it’s like to feel something again.