Pulse is a first person adventure/exploration game published and developed by Pixel Pi Games. This is Pixel Pi Games first ever title with the studio winning Best Student Game Unity Award at the Unite conference, they were also nominated for the Independent Games Festival’s Student Showcase award. The game itself is the product of a successful Kickstarter Campaign as a result of these awards.
Pulse: Windows [Reviewed], Linux, Mac OSX
Developer: Pixel Pi Games
Publisher: Pixel Pi Games
Release Date: 20 October 2015
Price: £10.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer]
As you unravel Eva’s story you will learn through her remaining senses that the world is both beautiful and dangerous. The world you thought you knew isn’t exactly what you were led to believe, the truth as it turns out is rather bitter-sweet. However, your journey is not a lonely one, you are somewhat guided by a creature that appears as a crow, and helped by other creatures known as Mokos, who’s unusual purring help you to navigate certain areas.
The game is rather unusual in the sense that it uses blindness, which makes the game counter-intuitive from a development standpoint as rarely would a game developer deliberately restrict the amount of vision you have. Of course in game like this it is essential, however the way in which its navigated is extremely interesting.
To get around the aspect of being blind there are a number of different mechanics available. Each step or jump made by the player creates a ripple or “pulse” of sound that allows you to “see” the world around you.
Wind as it’s rushes through the environment will have the same effect and on occasion there are the earthquakes that were mentioned earlier, which through your ability “lights up” the world for you. Campfires dotted around “light up” a very small area and act as checkpoints. Finally, there are the ridiculously cute Mokos (you will have to discover how they help you for yourself).
The biggest issue I had is the same as games that tell their story through text alone, in my view if it’s not narrated it needs to be paused until a key/button press allows it to continue to accommodate those of us that read a little slower. It should be noted that the game is extremely short and can be completed in less than 30 minutes. The only other issue I experienced seemed to be with big picture mode.
The game has extremely beautiful and colourful hand-crafted environments which appear as semi-transparent backgrounds that through the ripples/pulses turn into a wash of colour that would not be misplaced in an art gallery. The soundtrack lovingly created by Joel Corelitz of Waveplant Studios fits the game perfectly and is in itself rather beautiful also while adding a great deal to the overall aesthetic. The sound assets are well constructed through the use of wind, fire, the Mokos purrings/calls as well as many other aspects. Sound assets are also used to convey the sense of danger to the player, which adds to the immersion of the player into Eva’s world.
Overall the game is highly stylised and is a little bit unusual/strange, the way in which the story plays out is very interesting and captivating. The whole world is extremely beautiful and full of colour which stands in contrast to the protagonist being blind. Whilst I don’t mind games being short as long as you get a full experience, and indeed the price accurately reflects the length/experience. I’m not entirely convinced that having an achievement for completing the game in less than 30 minutes is a good idea.
Despite these kinds of games initially not being “my cup of tea” I’m definitely starting come around to them which is good as I would normally pass them by. I will finish this review with this: throughout the game I was constantly reminded of these lyrics from Reverence by Faithless “You don’t need eyes to see. You need vision” (oh one last thing, the Mokos are super cute, I want one!)