RipTen’s preview of Might & Delight’s Pid

In a conference full of titles pushing the limits of graphical and aural fidelity, it can be easy to overlook the smaller downloadable titles amidst the E3 cacophony.  To neglect these smaller offerings would mean missing out on some great gems, including one tucked away in a corner of the showfloor known as Pid.

Pid  follows in the footsteps of some of the more popular downloadable titles like Limbo and Braid by presenting players with a stylized 2D world they know little about and tasking them with exploring its numerous secrets.  Players have one mechanic at their disposal – the ability to throw out two beams of light that propel the main character forward.  Players must use these light beams to progress by avoiding enemies, navigating the levels and manipulating items to solve the world’s many puzzles.  It’s a simple idea that is incredibly difficult to master and made for a surprisingly challenging demo.  But the level of skill required translates to a frequent sense of gratification every time a hurdle is surpassed.

As Might and Delight’s first game, the indie developer wanted to deliver an experience hinging less on complex mechanics and more on the mastery of a technique.  This translated into crafting a single idea that will last the entire game, but one that provides variation through the level and puzzle design.  Completion of the most minute tasks felt like a great accomplishment and even when it became frustrating, Pid’s art style maintained a sense of joy and wonder.

That sensibility stems from the protagonist himself, Kurt, a young child who, during a galactic bus ride, crashes on an unknown planet and must explore his surroundings in order to survive.  The child’s inherent naïveté parallels the player’s inexperience in this world, but the clean and striking design propels players to uncover more.  Platforms and structures are angular and basic in their geometry, making goals easily identifiable.  Each locale possesses a singular color palette, a blue hue dominating this demo, translating into some great lighting effects that instill a different tone into the various levels.  And with the promise of a more fully-defined story as the player progresses, there is incentive to actually investigate each crack and crevice.

Another reason to explore derives from the collectable stars in each level.  While completely optional, players can amass these stars to use as in-game currency and purchase weaponry and other tools.  It’s a smart way of impelling players to explore the game beyond simply completing each level.

Yet the main enjoyment of such a title that hinges on a singular gameplay element derives from how well the levels are crafted, and the environments on display at E3 certainly offered their share of challenge.  Learning how to avoid enemies and lights while traversing the landscape is no easy task, but the level design seemed strong enough that successful maneuvering depends on the player’s ability and not on combating a needlessly difficult environment.

Pid has all the makings of a great downloadable title, and if the likable art style and intriguing main mechanic can support a full downloadable title, then Might and Delight may have one of the more endearing yet challenging downloadable titles to hit the PlayStation NetworkXbox Live Arcade and PC when it releases this summer.