Indie releases with intriguing art styles and gameplay ideas always seem to pique my interest, with Skookum Arts’ The Pedestrian fitting the bill perfectly. As the titular Pedestrian, you make your way through various side two-dimensional scrolling levels, utilising public signs situated in a three-dimensional life-like world to help progress your character through the two-dimensional world. While this might sound a bit confusing in words, a short glance at the gameplay makes it immediately clear. The concept is undoubtedly unique and the 3D backdrop aesthetic looks awesome. The Pedestrian not only looks great however, it plays well too, with an abundance of inventive puzzles that steadily increase in difficulty as the game progresses.
The Pedestrian looks gorgeous
In terms of a clear narrative, The Pedestrian doesn’t really have much to offer. You choose the gender of your stick character before coming to life and making your way from the whiteboard on which you are birthed to various different locales. I feel like the inherent lack of dialogue and story direction will give life to fan theories as to what exactly is happening throughout the duration of The Pedestrian, but I’ll go on the record saying that I wish there was a little more clarity to the narrative. While some fun can be derived from speculating about the overall meaning of the game (in particular one of the moments that occurs as the game draws to a close), I can’t help but wish I had a clearer understanding as to why there is a stick figure traversing the world through signage (I realise this sounds like the rambling of a madman).
Why are you here Stickman?
Even though the narrative is absent, The Pedestrian is still a damn joy to play. The platforming is simple yet precise, however you’ll quickly find that The Pedestrian is far more of a puzzler than a platformer. Puzzles initially start out as simply connecting doors and ladders between various signs allowing you to traverse through them, but they quickly become far more complex as keys, lifts and deadly lasers join the party. Dragging and dropping signs into the right areas to allow for signs to connect is something you will be doing consistently throughout the journey, however some levels cleverly restrict you from interacting with the signs in the way in which have grown accustom. For example, some puzzles have signs drilled into the wall behind it, or they are stuck behind a pipe and can only be accessed by connecting a battery to a power supply. Similar to what you’ll see in excellent puzzlers such as Portal, the Pedestrian constantly implements new and interesting mechanics that make puzzles more creative and mind blowing, and because of this, the game never really gets stale.
The sheer creativity of some puzzles honestly took me by surprise
While plenty of puzzle game fans often enjoy the complete lack of handholding and signposting, I feel like the game could have used it at some of its more difficult points. In the end I didn’t have many puzzles that left me stumped for too long, but I can’t help but feel that some players will be turned off by the overall lack of direction.
The lack of a reset option for puzzles is also a frustration, as you are basically forced to manually tear apart the puzzle and set it in a position in which you feel comfortable to tackle it again. This is often not too great of an issue with the simpler puzzles, however as the levels get more complex, it becomes increasingly frustrating.
Thankfully I didn’t need a reset option in this instance
The Pedestrian is a fantastic puzzle platformer that expertly pairs its unconventional aesthetic with plenty of rewarding puzzle challenges. Some puzzles may be frustrating to some in part due to the lack of handholding, however most will have a great time. The best puzzle games are on the ones that make you feel like a bona fide badass for figuring them out, and The Pedestrian has numerous challenges that give you that eureka moment. Emitting the indie charm of a game like Unravel, alongside the puzzling ingenuity of a game like Portal, The Pedestrian presents itself as a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher