From indie developer Tic Toc Games comes the puzzle-platformer Adventures of Pip, in which you play as the pixelated Pip – an unlikely hero who has been tasked with rescuing the princess from the clutches of an evil sorceress; the devious Queen Skeleton plans to reduce the land's populace to simple one-colour 'pixels' – much in the same fashion of our hero himself. That's right, to begin with, you'll find yourself as nothing more than a tiny, red square – albeit a tiny, red square that can hop and glide a little.
It's not long, of course, until you gain the ability to "evolve" your character into a more agile, complex-looking scamp that can jump from walls and punch enemies – and eventually, a sword-swinging, block-dragging, fully-depicted champion who is tired of taking orders from bugs and critters with spikes on their backs. These forms can be discarded by holding the circle button or L2 down for a short time, which will then cause Pip to revert back to his previous stage. This offers up some potential for very creative level design, as you'll often have to figure out which iteration of the protagonist is going to be best for each specific obstacle or scenario. It's quite a charming and playful gameplay mechanic that is, for the most part, strongly implemented – although we can't help but feel that it could have been explored and expanded upon further, particularly in later sections of the game.
The stages that you'll be traversing in your journey across the kingdom aren't especially original – you've got your fair share of standard forest, swamp, underwater, and evil-castle-filled-with-lava-themed environments to overcome – but they look nice, at least. In fact, the game's whole aesthetic is surprisingly slick despite it blurring the line between different types of pixel art – no pun intended – and the title succeeds in making its world feel alive and genuine, from its smoothly animated inhabitants to Pip's ruined home town gradually returning to its former glory as he progresses through the story. This air of sprightliness – again, no pun intended – is only aided by the release's charismatic score and satisfying sound design, as well as the reasonably comedic dialogue that the game's writing provides.
Pip feels rather responsive and easy to control, and it's rare that you'll encounter many moments that persuade you otherwise. Other actions, such as jumping and attacking, can be a bit fiddly, however, with any minimally mistimed button presses often resulting in a lost heart or two. Furthermore, the title can sometimes feel a tad unfair in its smaller fidelities. For example, we were crushed to death upon pulling a block towards ourselves – and minor issues like these can become quite frustrating when they're coupled with the occasionally unforgiving checkpoint system. What's more, any puzzles that you've completed – such as placing objects onto switches and other seemingly passive endeavours – will reset if you respawn at an earlier point in the stage, meaning that you'll likely end up repeating the same, methodical tasks more than once on tougher levels.
The minions and beasties that populate these areas are pretty tame for the most part, though less hardened platforming players will have a rough time getting past some of the more punishing foes on offer, with some sadly proving to be more annoying than they are challenging. There are also a few environmental hazards to be wary of, as later stages begin to throw spike traps, lava, and temporary footing at you somewhat recklessly. The services Pip can find back at his village can certainly provide him with some extra help in surmounting these hindrances, but most available items and equipment is feverishly expensive – which makes having to go back and grind for the necessary riches into a bit of a chore. It goes without saying that there are numerous villagers hidden around each map just waiting to be discovered and brought back to your residence – though these tend to feel like simple collectibles rather than treasures to be sought after.
Adventures of Pip is sure to provide any fans of the genre with a good few hours of fun, and offers up some very interesting gameplay mechanics to boot. Unfortunately, the game is undermined by some niggling issues and poor design choices, but these don't hinder it enough to obscure an otherwise charming and intelligent little outing.