It’s becoming increasing more frequent that games try to replicate your views in their stories. Whether it’s Mass Effect and the choices you make in regards to which relationships you become part of or Beyond: Two Souls where your choices determine how dark/light you are, the future of gaming is pointing towards a future where you will basically be playing ‘yourself’ in a pre-set scenario. Pillar appears to take it one step deeper within your psyche by asking you to choose a characteristic of your own personality to start off with.
In Pillar you have to guide your characters through a range of obstacles made up of a series of puzzles towards the end goal. At the beginning you need to select a character trait which then takes you into Pillar. You would think picking a particular trait will change the experience but you’ll soon discover this character trait option is just a character select screen in disguise. It doesn’t matter what you start off with because you can pause the game and play a different character trait i.e. different level.
There are six characters/traits to choose from. They are Distant: You’re an artist who creates speakers to sneak past enemies; Focused: A female who throws rocks to get past enemies; Capable & Giving: These are two characters who work in unison turning lights on and off; Enduring & Renewing: These two characters open and lock doors as you play them. Essentially Pillar becomes three sets of puzzling games in one that requires teamwork between the characters. Obviously some puzzles are more taxing than others, but the puzzles tend to become quite samey later on and then a bit of boredom sets in. Pillar tries to add a bit of variation to its puzzles are you play through but what appears to be imaginative at the beginning unfortunately lacks a lot of ideas by the end. There’s no tutorial as such, you sort of feel your way into Pillar, there is the odd piece of information or graphic in the background that attempts to explain things but nothing clear-cut.
Graphically Pillar is charming and basic at the same time portrayed in a top down perspective, there’s isn’t a great deal happening on-screen. The backgrounds are beautifully and simply drawn but the characters and enemies are fairly lacklustre in design. Being a puzzler Pillar doesn’t above average graphics but considering how much time you spend having your characters in view it wouldn’t have taken much to make them look more interesting. The musical score is quite engaging, one of the best I’ve heard in an indie title in a long time. It really matches what’s happening on-screen and helps engage you with what’s happening.
It’s a shame Pillar almost gives the impression at the start that it’s levels are customisable in terms on the character trait you begin with but it doesn’t so right at the start you feel a tad let down. As you progress through you’ll find yourself becoming less interested in playing, it stops being fun and becomes more of a chore. If at some point you find a particular puzzle hard you probably won’t care enough to try too hard because you don’t really get any kind of reward besides moving onto another similar looking puzzle.
It’s always difficult to review a game like Pillar, its obviously an indie title that a lot of work and love has been put into it. However much like letting an actor direct a movie they are staring in, Pillar feels like it’s a game it’s creators will enjoy more than their audience. Pillar is a reasonable puzzle game, with puzzles that are fairly straightforward backed up by an excellent musical score and charming graphics but unfortunately it’s not much fun to play after the first 30 or so minutes.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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