If there has been one genre to be over-represented in the Indie scene, it is platforming. It can seem that week in, week out there is yet another indie platformer vying for your attention, which can make it hard for the best to stand out.
Most often come with their own take on the genre and in The Adventures of Pip it is based around the evolution of videogame graphics. Essentially here you play as Pip an 8-bit sprite who has been challenged with the task of saving the kingdom.
The kingdom is controlled by something called the Bit-Stream and whomever controls its power can control the destiny of the Kingdom. The Skeleton Queen has control of the Bit-Stream and has also kidnapped the princess…there is always a princess!
So as Pip, the only 8-bit character in a 32-bit world, you embark on your journey to be the hero, once gaining the ability to upgrade your powers, such as evolving and devolving through the various ‘bits’
On the surface The Adventure of Pip is a pretty standard platforming affair, as you move through each level taking on baddies, solving platforming puzzles and everything you’d expect. However it is this evolve and devolve mechanic that makes this game as fun as it is.
Depending on your current state, 8-bit, 16-bit or 32-bit, you have different abilities and part of the puzzle solving is which state you should be in and when. Some areas will need you to be a single pixel, others may need you to be 16-bit so you can gain the ability to wall jump and attack enemies properly. And so on.
Overall it isn’t exactly a taxing game, but it can get quite frantic, with you needing to quickly switch states in a single area on the fly to get through. Now we aren’t talking Super Meat Boy levels of precision for platforming, nor the level of dexterity needed later on in the likes of Guacamelee, but this almost feels like it is a toned down hybrid of the two.
It works too, you do feel accomplished once you have made it through some areas, whether that be via your own platforming skills, or working out logically how to get though.
The games keeps a constant flow throughout, with only certain areas breaking the flow, or passing over the line to becoming a tad frustrating. Even when it comes to enemies, you need to consider your current state to play to their weaknesses and dispose of them as easily as possible.
Pip himself, as well as the world he inhabits, are full of character and show a great love for developing the character. If you played Thomas Was Alone, you’ll be well aware of how much character you can get out of a simple block shape and the same is true here.
8-bit Pip is full of charm, but so too are his 16 and 32-bit evolutions. The way each feels so different, but still liked is a joy to witness, you start to appreciate each one for what they bring to the table and that is testament to solid character design.
Length too is well considered, with the game beatable within a few hours. But therein lies the only real problem I have with the game. As much as the main length is just right, I felt no need to go back again and play, even after a break. I really want more, I want the evolving mechanic expanded on. Because as it stands, there is no real reason for me to to go back, it is one and done. Yet I want more.
I don’t want more of that adventure, I want to be able to use the mechanics in many other ways, have more challenges, that sort of thing. Which is where a Super Meat Boy excels, by having a main quest line, but plenty of reason to go back and improve, or find the bonus and variant levels. It just isn’t here which is a shame.
Now that isn’t to say I didn’t get value from what I played and if there is a sequel…well I will be there on day one to go on yet another adventure with Pip and who knows, maybe the evolution can stretch even further than 32-bits.