Seeing footage of XCOM: Enemy Unknown at this year’s PAX: East quickly reminded me how much I longed for the glory days of well executed turn based strategy. Not only did the XCOM look incredible, it also seemed to mysteriously capture the tone and pedigree of the original title. If you’re anything like myself and have been waiting for a proper release day for this long anticipated title, we’ve got great news, the wait is almost over! XCOM is set to invade North America on October 9th 2012 for both 360 and PC. (click for more info)
With the hustle and bustle of PAX Prime 2015 behind us, we return to our respective home bases to get back to gaming and to regroup for the next convention.
One of the games that I have really been enjoying since PAX is Adventures of Pip from indie developer, Tic Toc Games. We also sat down (literally, in the hallway) to chat with some of the developers during PAX, which you can hear in Rated NA 213. Adventures of Pip is a retro-inspired platformer that has carved out a unique place for itself among the current resurgence of the platforming genre.
Our titular hero, Pip, is tasked with saving a kingdom from an evil queen. And, as you might expect, Pip must also save a princess along the way. Superficially, this all sounds like the standard fare, until you actually start playing the game. That’s where things really get interesting. For instance, Pip is simultaneously a single pixel, 8-bit, and 16-bit hero. He switches between these unique forms to solve the games various platforming puzzles and to combat enemies.
I describe Adventures of Pip as retro-inspired (and not simply retro) because it exists in a modern era, as opposed to presenting as if it were made in the 80’s or 90’s. This is an important distinction because it allows the game to have an awareness of itself. Characters of different resolutions all co-exist within the same environment, with the highest-resolutions characters finding themselves at the top of the food chain. This juxtaposition extends to the enemies as well. The mashup of visually distinct game elements has a very Captain N feel to it.
Placing elements of different gaming eras together also frees the game from conforming to certain expectations. For instance, Adventures of Pip foregoes the chip-tune soundtrack for an epic orchestral score, which adds to the tension and excitement of some very hectic platforming sequences throughout the game. The game’s environmental narrative also lends itself to some humorous dialogue sequences between the game’s characters. I only wish there were more of it.
The challenge and pacing of Adventures of Pip is also relatively friendly, a refreshing departure from the current trend of “punishingly difficult” games. That’s not to say that the game is not challenging, rather the difficultly of the game ramps up in a linear, as opposed to exponential, fashion. The home village also hosts a couple of shops where upgrades can be purchased; the game seems to be tuned in such a way that these will be attainable through normal progression without the need for excessive level grinding to gain enough currency to purchase them.
Adventures of Pip hits that sweet spot of being challenging without being unnecessarily difficult, retro while also standing apart from other games in the genre, and engaging to the point where you’d gladly welcome a sequel. If you’re looking for something refreshing in the crowded retro-style platforming space, Adventures of Pip is highly recommended.
Adventures of Pip is available on Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, Steam and iOS. Played on Xbox One.