Vibrant and pleasant art style.
Unique and interesting concept.
Accessible to everyone.
A little pricy.
Not much reason to revisit after finishing.
Adventures of Pip Review
All the way back in February, I took a look at a game called the Adventures of Pip. I praised it for its art style and gameplay. Now the full title has been released and… My opinions remain largely unchanged.
At least now we have a plot. There is a tiny land, tiny enough to fit in your palm, full of pixel people. Pixels reflect the quality of life in this kingdom. Those with a lot of pixels, which are incorporated into your body, live a richer life while those with fewer pixels live a simpler, poorer life. A princess is then born in the royal family. Princess Adeline was born with an extraordinary talent: she can create pixels from nothing. This brings about great celebration, but also worry from the royal family, as they fear that the dark Queen, Queen DeRizzia will one day try to take this power for herself. Sure enough, on Adeline’s 16th birthday, Queen DeRizzia storms the castle and kidnaps the Princess. She then uses her power to revert everyone into low-resolution versions of themselves or into single pixels, using their pixels to make herself stronger and higher in resolution. Pip, who witnesses all of this, is then told to seek the hero, Chad, who will surely save the day. And this is the premise of Adventures of Pip. I have a few comments and questions.
Firstly, we obviously know that pixels and resolution are incredibly important in this land. But how would someone make themselves higher or lower in resolution? Do you have to be born into it, like being part of the Royal family? Can pixels be taken from someone else without using this power? Throughout the adventure, Pip can pick up these… coloured squares. It’s never quite established what exactly they are, but they can be used in the shop to purchase upgrades. If these are pixels, which would make sense since they’re so important, then what’s stopping someone ingesting these and increasing their own resolution? Questions which may never be answered. Still, it’s good to see classicism is still alive and kicking, even in a kingdom smaller than a Digestive.
On a praising note, this is a unique foot to start an adventure on. 99% of games either tell the protagonist that their actions are either required or pre-destined to directly impact the events on the world. They’re often told that they are the hero, and they must save the day. That or we get the Gordon Freeman approach, which is simply to survive an unlikely situation. Adventures of Pip ignores both and bluntly tells the player to go and find someone better than yourself. Interesting to say the least.
The gameplay is largely unchanged, though we now get a World Map, as seen in most indie 2D games, platformers or otherwise. This allows us to go back to the town (which has been completely wrecked) whenever we have enough cash to spend. Pip, like last time, has three different forms he can assume:
- Pixel Pip: The common or garden variety. This is his original form. He can’t do much other than bounce along and jump. However, he is lighter than all of his other forms, which allows him to jump higher. He can also glide long distances when you hold the jump button.
- Agile Pip: The first variation the player encounters. This changes Pip from a single pixel to a number of pixels grouped together to make a crude representation of a boy. He wouldn’t look out of place on an Atari- 5200. This version of Pip is much more athletic than his last iteration. He can run slightly faster, triangle jump off walls and can perform a variety of moves. He can throw a weak punch that can clear some obstacles. He can perform a ground pound in mid-air for getting past vines and such. And finally, he can choose to revert back to Pixel Pip. This emits a powerful shockwave which damages enemies and destroys certain types of block.
- Strong Pip: Finally the bruiser variation, Strong Pip. This one is the slowest and bulkiest of the Pip’s, but he makes up for it in brute strength. He carries a large sword, designed for slaying anything that gets in his way. He can push heavy blocks out of the way and for solving puzzles. This also happens to be the highest resolution character model for Pip, so of all his forms, this one would be the most well-respected.
The music is fittingly chirpy for the art style, yet grand to suit the medieval era. In fact, if there’s one gripe I have with the audio it’s the obnoxious warning sound when you only have one heart left. Since enemies are everywhere and the game only starts you off with three hearts, being reduced to one heart can become a common happening, especially early on when you aren’t fully familiar with the controls. I always thought annoying low health warnings were a “Nintendo-Only” thing, but it seems to have bled into other developer kits too. Fantastic.
And if there’s one easily amendable criticism I have for Adventures of Pip overall it’s the price. Yes, the game is good, perhaps even great, for what it is. But that’s just it. “For what it is.” A 2D platformer with interesting ideas, good writing, and solid gameplay. These are good. But it also happens to have limited collectibles and unlockables, little replay value and fails to throw curveballs to the player. Let me explain.
The main mechanics of Adventures of Pip are jumping on enemy heads to get places, using your shockwave to break blocks, and managing your different forms. That’s pretty much it. There are only so many different combinations of the same elements before it gets stale. For an example of a game down a similar vein, we could look at “Guacamelee!” This, too, is 2D platformer, but it also has combat, different abilities, different versions of the same world and interesting NPC’s to meet, an active storyline (Adventures of Pip’s storyline pretty much takes a backseat after the first couple of levels). Maybe it’s unfair to compare a “Metroid-Vania” title to a straight platformer. How about Mario? He has a base set of skills no matter what form he’s in, but then receives power-ups which give him access to new abilities, much like Pip. But he has many more than just three, and different environments require different approaches, and… Again, it isn’t fair comparing Adventures of Pip to this. Mario is the flagship character for a major corporation.
Let’s finish with this. Adventures of Pip is a charming, interesting 2D platformer. It’s pretty damn good, actually. But personally, I don’t think the player is getting enough bang for their buck to justify the £10.99 asking price, considering the aforementioned “Guacamelee!” is currently £9.99, or any of the “Under £7” games in Steam’s Special area.
Adventures of Pip Review
4th June 2015