Early this year, indie developer TicToc Games announced that their 2D platformer Adventures of Pip will be coming to Xbox One via the ID@Xbox program. Adventures of Pip stars a tiny pixel which can transform into a full-sized hero and back again in order to deal with enemies and solve puzzles. It boasts a clever mishmash of art styles and concepts borrowed from the 8-, 16-, and 32-bit eras of gaming.
We got a fair impression of Adventures of Pip from the announcement and trailers, but you never truly know what a game is like until you've played it. Considering this one is not due for release on Xbox One and 360, Windows and Mac, PlayStation 4, and Wii U until May, we might well have had to wait another few months to play it. Luckily, TicToc Games has granted us some hands-on time with their latest demo.
Read on for my impressions and a full video playthrough of the Adventures of Pip demo!
Pixels in peril
Pip's small but lovely world lives by a caste system, not unlike some countries in our own. 32-bit people are the most beautiful, and thus the top of the heap. 16-bit citizens live less luxurious but still comfortable lives. And 8-bit pixelated people have the fewest pixels, making them the lowest of the low – the serfs. Basically, the more pixels you have, the better off you are.
One day, the evil Skeleton Queen kidnaps a princess who can magically create pixels from nothing. With all of the princess's knights defeated, no one is left to rescue her… None except for Pip, a lowly red pixel who makes up for his small size with plenty of bravery.
The powers of Pip
Pip lives in a pixelated town surrounded by 8-bit people. When the forces of the Skeleton Queen attack, he sets out to stop them. Pip is actually a bit bigger than a real pixel – a little red block that can run and jump, basically. That's enough for him to hop on bad guys to kill them, collecting the yellow pixels they leave behind.
Quite early in the demo Pip meets the ghost of Elwyn, a brave knight who defended the kingdom until his own hubris led to his downfall. Elwyn bestows Pip with a unique gift: the power of the Bit Stream. Suddenly our little red hero transforms from a boxy pixel to a 16-bit boy called Agile Pip!
Pip's Agile form is not only fast, he can also punch enemies and cling onto ledges and jump off of walls. Switching to him greatly increases your mobility. But being larger than a pixel, he also weighs more. When Pip needs to bounce off of spring-like mushrooms to heights above or to ride a monster who won't move if the load is too heavy, he has to devolve back to Pixel Pip. The pixel form can also squeeze through smaller spaces than Agile Pip.
Later in the demo, Pip encounters Sir Elwyn once more. This time he gives another form: Strong Pip. As a 32-bit character, Strong Pip is bigger and tougher than his previous forms. He can attack with a sword, greatly increasing his offensive capabilities. His strength also lets him push heavy blocks around, which can help him access new pathways and solve puzzles. Strong Pip can't move as fast or jump as well as his lower-pixel counterparts though.
The demo takes advantage of each form's strengths and weaknesses, requiring players to switch back and forth between forms to traverse each area. In one exciting sequence, I had to outrun a falling ceiling as Agile Pip, hopping between walls like mad, then shrink down to Pixel Pip to squeeze through a tight spot, and finally grow to Strong Pip in order to break down a wall with his sword. The puzzles are much simpler and more intuitive than you'd get from many puzzle platformers – in the demo, at least.
Another gameplay aspect I experienced is rescuing pixel people. Spread throughout each area of the demo are lots of 8-bit citizens that players can rescue. But you have to find them first, and they're often hidden behind fake walls or out of the way somewhere. In the full game, I'm told that rescued citizens will help expand a hubworld where Pip can unlock new content.
Gamers who grew up in the nineties should get a kick out of Pip's loving combination of different eras' platforming concepts and art styles. Hopefully the full game can maintain the fun and creativity of the demo!
Adventures of Pip comes to on Xbox One and 360, Windows and Mac, PlayStation 4, and Wii U this May.