The block that saved the world.
Pixelated 2D platformers are certainly a regular occurrence nowadays. The indie scene has paved the way for games that would have been right at home 25 years ago. The difference now is that they come in bite-sized offerings at a much more reasonable price. TicToc Games’ latest follows that trend with Adventures of Pip, a side-scrolling adventure that feels both familiar, and inviting. From the second I booted up the game I knew I was going to enjoy the world. The pinpoint controls and interesting level design pave the way for an adventure worth taking.
The game starts off with Pip as an actual giant pixel. He can jump and glide, but not much else. Early on he gains the ability to morph into a more traditional-looking character, while still retaining the ability to morph back into the pixel. This adds depth and challenge to the level design, but it is worth noting that Pip cannot simply go back and forth. Morphing back into the little boy actually requires a pick-up, again adding to the design of each area.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, Wii U, PC
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
The game play is standard platform stuff. Pip can jump on enemies’ heads, punch them in boy form, jump, and wall jump to traverse levels and discover secrets. There is nothing revolutionary about the design, but its execution is exemplary. Jumping feels perfect, and navigating the world just works the way it should. My one gripe is that Pip likes to grab ledges or slide down walls, which takes a bit of adjusting when trying to make pinpoint leaps.
Later in the game Pip finally morphs into his last form, a sword-wielding hero. Again, there is nothing special about what the game does, it just does it all with superb execution. Playing the game is a delight, and I could really tell that TicToc Games wanted to craft a solid experience.
Swapping forms is the key component to the game, but there is also an upgrade path for all of Pip’s abilities. This is not the kind of game that doles them out on a regular basis though. The currency to purchase upgrades is plentiful, but said upgrades cost an exorbitant amount to obtain. By the end of my playthrough I had not collected them all, and only after going back was I able to purchase some of the late game stuff. I get how it is supposed to work, but it still feels grindy in that aspect.
In addition to the challenge, there is also ample reason to return to levels. Collectibles are scattered about, and some of them extremely well-hidden. It is also fun to return to levels with upgraded powers to take different paths and discover new areas. Again, the superb level design is what makes this work.
The art style in the game is familiar, but there is something about how TicToc Games has crafted the world that makes it more appealing than most. I got a strong Link to the Past vibe early on, and while the themes are standardized, the worlds I was adventuring in were a treat to explore. The music is also stellar, being composed by Jake Kaufman, who most will recognize from his recent work on WayForward’s Shovel Knight. It is also worth noting that most of the team from TicToc are veterans of this legendary developer, which explains why the level design is so good.
Adventures of Pip looks like just another 2D indie platformer on the surface, but from the first level it shows it is so much more. The experience of the team involved shines through, making this one that definitely deserves more attention.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.