The Pedestrian Review: It is the nature of humans to be curious about what seems mundane and inanimate things do when we are not looking. Such ideas spawned myths like allotment fairies, borrowers, and the Toy Story saga, and now we come to street signs. What do those little human figures do when no one is around? If you can believe The Pedestrian, the answer is 2D platforming, solving a lot of puzzles, and taking over electrical appliances in an attempt to escape their limits.
The Pedestrian Review: About
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS
- Developer: Skookum Arts
- Publisher: Skookum Arts
- Genres: Puzzle game
- Release Date: January 29, 2020
The Pedestrian Review: Official Trailer Video
The Pedestrian Review: Gameplay
By taking control of a human figure, your adventure in The Pedestrian is usually limited to different street signs, blueprints, and other 2D surfaces. In the background, faded into oblivion, are the beautiful 3D landscapes of the world in which they exist. You can run, jump and climb with light platform maneuvers to reach new areas, but the core of The Pedestrian’s puzzling stems from the ability to zoom out and rearrange the positions of the 2D boards and flat surfaces, creating doorways and new paths emerge.
Once you regain control of the character symbol, you can use these new doorways to access the other characters to complete puzzles and move on. Rearranging the playing field adds a layer of complexity that makes you think about obstacles in two different ways for most of the experience. It’s satisfying to arrange the panels of a level your way so that you can jump back in and complete the puzzle. The process is not entirely free, as doors and ladders on one panel only connect to the other if they are correctly aligned, and there are often obstacles in the way that can interfere with some way of working.
However, there is undoubtedly a very divine feeling about the control it gives you. Occasionally my solutions felt so chaotic that I wondered if they were the intended direction; other times, the puzzles felt deliberately made to lead me to specific results. But in general, it is a nice feeling that you figure things out in your way. The additional difficulty lies in the fact that you cannot make most of the changes to your 2D platform world layout without resetting other things – activated switches are deactivated, and essential items are lost, so you need to prepare a plan.
Sometimes resetting is essential, especially if you hit a dead-end. Still, later you can freeze some characters to prevent them from resetting, keeping the elements active there for your next try. The concept prompts you to think about puzzles in a way, almost like time travel. Having to manage a puzzle full of different segments filled with keys, switches, and laser beams, among other things, and then having to manage time and space to achieve a goal delivers some surprisingly challenging and satisfying scenarios.
The Pedestrian plays out these scenarios in bite-sized pieces. Even if it presents a giant puzzle, it is still split into several smaller sections, certainly making them easier to understand. However, because of this structure, The Pedestrian can start to feel a bit too much, especially when the reward for completing a puzzle is almost always more puzzles. It works great as a game to spend half an hour and then returns to later, instead of gulping down the entire four-hour duration in an endless barrage.
I often found myself leaving it due to puzzle fatigue or a bit stuck, then came back later with renewed inspiration to solve the tricky puzzle immediately, ready for a little bit more. The introduction of new concepts and difficulty escalation go smoothly, and only when new elements are added for the first time does it feel daunting. Some of the puzzles I’ve worked on the longest were working out exactly how a new mechanic worked or could be used because the game does not often provide much direction.
Instead, the pedestrian will give you plenty of opportunities to explore and understand new features in the next levels and encourage you to figure things out for yourself. The initial frustration is always offset by the improved understanding and satisfaction of working it out yourself. It also made me fully understand all the concepts, which then made it possible to solve increasingly challenging puzzles. I’m sure I would be crazy otherwise. The payoff because I felt stupid for one problem made me feel incredibly smart for many other more difficult challenges.
The Pedestrian review takes on puzzle platforming and world manipulation is fresh. The continuous introduction of new, sometimes surprisingly complex ideas means that there is enough to guide you through the nicely segmented challenges. The levels themselves can be quite repetitive, both in looks and feel, making the game tiring during long gaming sessions, but it lends itself well to short burst experiences and never leaves you feeling lost. The pedestrian performs its charming premise well, with just enough complexity to keep your brain pleasantly stimulated.
The Pedestrian performs its charming premise well, with just enough complexity to keep your brain pleasantly stimulated.