The chances are that at some point in your life, you'll take some sort of psychometric assessment – such as a Myers-Briggs test – where, based on your answers, you'll be given a full rundown on your personality preferences. Are you an introvert or an extrovert, a thinker or a feeler? Whatever the answer, you'll find some degree of truth in the mirror that these attempt to hold up to you. Pillar, a new puzzle game on the PlayStation 4, is heavily inspired by such evaluations, and hopes to resonate with players on a unique level by basing its minigames on specific personality types.
In this puzzler you're tasked with guiding a number of characters through their own set of obstacles in order to reach the titular 'pillar' that supposedly holds the secret of understanding. When the game starts, you're asked to select the sort of person that you are from a list of personality types, and this puts you in control of the first character.
Initially you'll think that by selecting a personality trait that best reflects you, this means that the game is going to tailor the experience to you own mental outlook. However, after you've completed the first puzzles, you'll soon realise that the list of traits is merely a disguised character select screen, and you'll eventually play through each of those listed, solving each character's conundrums as you work your way through the campaign.
Presented with a hand painted art style, the look of the game is wonderfully unique, and while you could argue that it's little on the basic side, it does a good job of evoking the snow covered and lonely town that acts as the backdrop for its cast of characters. The music also adds to the feeling of wintery isolation, with the entire score nicely understated, keeping to the background just enough that you register its presence, while not distracting you from the puzzles at hand.
In total, there are six characters for you to guide – Distant, Focussed, Giving, Capable, Enduring, and Renewing – with each having differing challenges to overcome. Distant and Focussed are the most similar, with both needing to avoid contact with other residents of the town as they work their way towards the pillar. With contrasting motivations as to why they shy away from contact, both have the means to distract the town's residents, enabling them to clear the path ahead.
Focussed can shout at people and call them towards her, while Distant needs to place distractions on the ground – along with corresponding pressure pads – that when triggered will lure residents towards their sound. While they start their journey separately, in order to reach the pillar, they'll need to team up for a final set of puzzles that has you switching between each of the characters on the fly.
This teaming up of complementary personalities occurs throughout Pillar, with other sections seeing Giving and Capable lighting street lamps by triggering pressure pads, while Enduring has to evade Renewing to collect globes in a sequence of challenges that clearly took inspiration from maze games like Pac-Man.
While none of these mini-games turn out to be particularly challenging – proving to be far too easy in many cases – the release at least manages to pack in a nice mix of them. There's also a welcome difference in pace between the various puzzle types, with some requiring a very deliberate sequence of pre-planned steps to solve, while in others you'll need to think on your feet, adjusting your plan as you go.
The puzzles are still, generally disappointing, though, and the characters' stories aren't particularly engaging either. With very little information about their motivations expressed, any insight instead has to be gleaned from the information seeded in the game's mechanics, world, and collectible notes. It's possible that if you share a particular trait with a character, their trials may resonate with you on a personal level, but it all feels a bit too abstract at times for that to happen.
Pillar should be applauded for its hand painted art style and atmospheric soundtrack, though ultimately it doesn't deliver on the promise of its unique setup. While the gameplay ties into various personality traits in some interesting ways, the puzzles are nowhere near challenging enough, allowing you to power through most of what this title has to offer in just a few hours. As a result, unless you have a penchant for unique indie titles, you won't need to take a test to work out that this probably isn't the game for you.