I always love to see a game that came to be through a kickstarter, it warms my heart to see the generosity of people who give towards making someone else’s creation come to life. I feel like these games have so much love put into them, not just from the creator, but from those people who lent their support to the creator’s goal.
And the love put into this game is felt as you play it.
Adventures of Pip is an action-adventure platformer brought to us by Tic Toc Games that is now available on Steam, XBox One, Playstation 4, and Wii U that follows the adventures of Pip (duh), a single-pixel underdog living in a 32-pixel world, and reminds us why we used to log so many hours in side-scrollers.
Story & Plot
When the game begins, our hero, Pip, is but a single pixel, ostracized and underestimated by those around him, who are all varying degrees of more developed than he is. When the evil Queen DeRezzia attacks the royal family and kidnaps the princess, threatening to steal her pixels for her own dastardly plans, the king and queen enlist Pip to stop her and rescue their daughter.
As Pip traverses through different worlds, he discovers that he can harness the power of the Bit Force, the powerful energy Queen DeRezzia is bent on stealing, and use it to get more bits and evolve or devolve into different forms with different abilities needed to advance.
A dynamic I really love about this game is that though they live in a 32-bit world, the people who live in it aren’t all that way. You see all different types of people, both scattered about in cutscenes as well as when you rescue villagers during the levels, they can be just blocks of color like Pip was at the beginning of his adventure, or they could be more developed, with more colors and shading and all that stuff. The more pixelated people always talk down to the less pixelated people, making it clear that the people of this world value their bits over all else.
It’s a really clever undertone added to a cute and simple game, which gives it a bit of depth. Is it a heavily veiled commentary on systemic racism? Probably not. But it does add another layer to the cute theme of different pixels, different people, and bolsters down the underdog story, which everybody loves.
This is a game that constantly acknowledges that it’s a game and does so in a really funny and cute way.
The gameplay is super fun and creative. The game is a side-scrolling platformer, there’s no arguing that, but it also feels a lot like a puzzle game. Each of Pip’s evolutions, from 1-bit to 8-bit to 32-bit, all have different abilities needed to advance through the level, but once you’re in Pip’s final evolution, it isn’t like you can just wreck shop and beat the level no problem. The levels are specifically designed so that the player will have to evolve and devolve Pip several times to complete the stage and they do so without it feeling awkward and tedious. 32-bit Pip can push and pull heavy items to press down on switches that trigger something, but you can’t move to the next room unless you use 8-bit Pip’s Mario-style triangle jumps to get up the walls.
There are also certain advantages and disadvantages with every form besides just the obvious abilities needed to move forward, which keep the forms from becoming monotonous when you aren’t using them to solve a puzzle. For example, 32-bit Pip has a sword that can slice through enemies like butter, but he’s much slower than 8-bit Pip and neither can jump as high as 1-bit Pip. This game makes you think before you jump and sometimes you’ll have to play the same room a bunch of times before you get it just right.
There’s also a nice sense of exploration in the game, since there are always a lot of hidden niches and alcoves in the levels that can lead you to either villagers that have gotten lost in all the chaos or money, which can be used to purchase power-ups or improve your weapon at the blacksmith.
The levels can get challenging, with fewer checkpoints spaced farther and farther apart as you get farther into the world and closer to the boss. It truly feels like an early side-scroller in how you can get frustrated to a degree that doesn’t align with the cute, happy design of the game.
Graphics & Audio
As I’ve said several times already, this game is 32-bit at most, sometimes less. So it’s no Final Fantasy, graphics-wise. But that doesn’t mean it’s lacking by any means. The worlds are bright and colorful and every one of those 32 pixels is used to its full potential in both the characters and the backgrounds.
Even though there are a lot of instances where an 8-bit or 4-bit person will be standing next to a 32-bit background, they don’t look out of place. This game has a retro look but a modern design that blends seamlessly together.
The music is very cheerful but triumphant, which is essential in any adventure game.
Whether this is a commentary on the game’s difficulty or my own skill (or lack thereof) at playing games, this game doesn’t make it easy for you. You could be five rooms into the level and one away from the checkpoint when something kills you and you get sent right back to the beginning. And the good, old-fashioned stubbornness in you keeps you coming back to keep trying.
With over ten hours of gameplay packed into this game (and I assume that’s all if you don’t die every ten seconds, like I do,) you probably won’t beat this game in one sitting. It’s a great game to turn on when you want to relive the nostalgia of side-scrollers or just want to play a game that doesn’t give you too much to think about but doesn’t let you zone out either.
All in all, I love this game. Visually appealing and with a clever dynamic that was put into an interesting plot and executed really, really well.
Adventures of Pip is a lot of different things melted into one game but it doesn’t feel jumbled or like the individual pieces are unfinished. The action-adventure piece of the game blends really well with the puzzle-solving piece and that makes a game with a simple design feel not so simple.
This is a game that knows what it is and though humble in its presentation, there’s a lot to love about this game. For just $15 to download, I would definitely recommend this game next time you’re looking for an indie game to try out. Adventures of Pip is available on Xbox One, PC, OSX, WiiU, and PS4.