PID (Planet in Distress) | Gaming reviews, news & interviews
PID (Planet in Distress)
A beautifully scored dreamscape, but the vindictive restarts mean the planet won’t be the only thing in distress
Kurt has fallen asleep on the space-bus on the way home from school. To make matters worse, he has been transported to a strange planet where the buses don’t run anymore, trapped in the apathetic thrall of an evil man at the heart of a terrible conspiracy. To escape the planet you must first travel through its dangerous levels and fight the truly bizarre super-foes sent to prevent you from breaking the evil spell. Bet you’re wishing you forgot your bus pass, eh Kurt?
This is a real treat of a platform game, with a beautiful aesthetic and a real sense of humour. A twilight haze overlays your journey through an ethereal landscape of warehouses, opera houses, caves and castles, where activity is going on all around you and where enemies can and do come looming out of the background towards you in a truly terrifying manner. It also has a fantastic soundtrack by Retro Family which alternates between the dreamy and the jazzy, and heightens the feel of the game as a dreamscape. You can also play in co-op mode and take a friend along for the ride.
There are the traditional platform obstacles to cross, like spikes and rocket launchers and lasers. But the game invents new ways of surmounting these, the most important being Kurt’s use of crystals, which he uses to cast anti-gravitational beams. These beams can lift and carry away both Kurt and unsuspecting enemies. You can also use them to reveal hidden things, to climb, to alter the direction of security cameras or laser beams etc.
As you skedaddle through the levels you happen upon the planet’s unhappy humanoid inhabitants, who speak in a strange, breathy gibberish translated by speech bubbles. This listless bunch will drop hints about the mysterious man and his terrible influence, but the rest you will have to discover for yourself as you collect hidden memories and suck up star constellations like a hoover. These stars can be used in vending machines for weapons like bombs, or for much-needed armour. I say much-needed because the fact is, this is a game where you will die. A lot.
There is simply no reason for PID to be as punishing as it is. The unexpected changes in the enemy fighting mechanics make the restart points appear almost vindictive. You will reach the point where you have to simply save and exit, and go eat some toast or something because this game is infuriating. That being said, blame also lies with the trigger-happy player who over-clicks and under-thinks. Be cautious about your timing because the generally laconic movement is deceptive. You may be floating peacefully through the air like a pretty bubble, but you have to throw that crystal at the right moment and angle and if you’re not ready for it, into the jaws of death you go.
Despite these problems, you will find it hard to give up on such an imaginatively styled game. And with such a great soundtrack, you’ll be tapping your feet while you smash your controller keys.
- PID developed by Might and Delight and published by D3 Publisher. Platform: PC, Xbox, PS3. Out now
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
The most hyped action game of the 'next generation' is dumb, but great fun
The smartest stealth series reboots with an attempt to blend in with its surroundings
Whip smart? Hardly – this action-adventure sequel jumps the franchise off a cliff
This "endless runner" gets off to a slow start, but the result is worth the wait
The spirit of Hunter S Thompson haunts this comedy adventure
A cynical attempt to squeeze cash from players by any means necessary
A role-playing game that breaks the fourth wall... but why?
A classic game delivers a deep mobile experience
Human frailty and a dread enemy give this beautiful tactical battle game an edge
A mobile game that matches the visuals and (sadly) lack of imagination of console games.
Crystal ball gazing on what should be the most exciting games of 2014
Salvaging the best bits from the wreckage of the console videogame implosion