While the Nintendo Switch is great for playing single-player games, it really does shine when it dishes up a cooperative title. Pode may be simplistic, but it's an ode to what casual couch co-op games should be.
It's an experience that kept me smiling from the moment I picked up my Joy-Con to the moment I forced myself to go to bed. Sure, it has its issues, but the focus isn't so much on the gameplay as it is the amount of fun you have playing it.Catch a falling star
Pode is an exploration puzzler where you play as a rock and a fallen star, Bulder and Glo. Together they need to solve ancient puzzles to get to the top of Mount Fjellheim using their unique abilities.
You're immediately thrown into the world without so much as a whisper of how or why it happened.
The game shines brightest with two players as it offers up an ultra-chilled, unhurried experience where you can sit back with a bestie and just work things out at your own pace.
Bulder is a great, heavy rock with the ability to eat and spit out items, move heavy blocks, sink in water, weigh down buttons, crack open tough seed pods, and grow geodes. Glo, on the other hand, weighs nothing, can grow flora, activate flower lifts and triggers, can glide, walks on water, and lights up symbols in the walls.
In some cases, the puzzles are straight forward to solve, but most of the time the rooms are vast and offer up all sorts of teeny secrets and particular details that can easily be missed.
Its visuals are simplistic, but developer Henchman & Goon has made contrast of colour so vivid it's hard not to be struck by it. The same goes for its animation. Regardless of whether geodes bloom from the walls or plantlife bursts from the floor, it transforms what could be a rather dull affair into something lively.
It's also kept fresh as new mechanics for each character are introduced throughout the game. These new elements open up new strategies to keep you from getting too comfortable off the bat, and there is a real challenge to some of the levels.Rock it out
The game did seem to struggle a bit when we reached larger rooms. The framerate is excellent for the most part, but when there's a lot of geodes and plantlife to grow it really takes a hit in terms of performance. It's not a huge deal, but it's noticeable.
More than just enjoying it with another person, playing Pode in single-player mode is a bit of a chore. You have to use both Glo and Bulder to complete the challenges, so you have to swap between them constantly. While it's doable, it's nowhere near as fun.
The static camera can also be a bit of a pain at times. Since the isometric view is limiting, especially once the room is full of blossoming plants, it would've been nice to have a little bit of give. The camera does follow you around when you move out of frame, but it's out of your control.
Though Pode has a few little blips, it's just a nice game to play. I know that's a bit of a plain and childish way to put it, but it's true. More than just the visual aspect, it encourages teamwork in a classic couch co-op way that I didn't realise how much I missed.
It is a little bit steep in price, but if you want an easy-breezy game to play with a friend or family member this one is well worth picking up.