Review: Pillar

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Who are you? What do you want? The screams of a paranoid man to an empty house or the underlying theme of personality disorder diagnosis/puzzle game Pillar? Probably both.

Pillar is a PS4 game and that is beautifully constructed, original, challenging and almost entirely created by Michael Hicks. Michael has written the music, designed the game, developed the game…everything other than the art work which he convinced someone else to do. The art work is a strong selling point for this game, a mixture between SNES RPG style mixed with Tim Burton sketches. The game can be quite difficult to understand as you are expected to complete 6 different puzzle games all with their own individual rulings that aren’t necessarily instinctive and very little text exists within the game. It took me a while of ‘dying’ and being dragged into what felt like a sequence from Fear and Loathing before I realised what I was supposed to be doing. If you found yourself playing a Call of Duty esque game and handed a controller it may not take more than a few seconds to figure out the controls, but when I first loaded up Pillar it was like handing me a glowing sphere and telling me to rub it in a way that made 6 people happy.

The concept is simple, there are 6 people all with different personality types they have mini games that they must pass to make their way towards the pillar. The types come in pairs and the pairs are in the same world. For example you see how introverts and extroverts will behave. Some of them you even play as at the same time.

Focused/Distance

The introverts, two different ways of avoiding contact with humans, which is one of my most favourite things to do. You must throw things to distract people, or place button activated speakers to lead them off in different directions allowing you to sneak past. It feels like if Michael was to focus on developing a game around these traits that he could well develop a new rival to the early Metal Gear games.

Capable/Giving

These ones are my favourite, they remind me of old Amiga games and you could probably sell a 99 level game based around just this. In short there are lights that can be in one of three stages Broken = 0 Fixed = 1 and Lit = 2. A broken light can not be lit until it is fixed and there are buttons on the ground that allow you to turn them on or fix them, you can turn them out again for strategic purposes. I put the most amount of time into these ones and really enjoyed trying to figure out the best way to approach each level.

Enduring/Renewing

You can’t go back to the past I am told. The two characters in this are trapped in a more traditional puzzle game, a collection of switches and locked doors affair. If this game was a personality test I would find myself being diagnosed as neither of these types as I became insanely frustrated quite quickly with these ones, but other people I know loved this so maybe I have some sort’ve personality disorder.

So that is the game in short, but it needs to be experienced to be understood. With little to no text or dialogue in the game at all the plot has to be felt rather than worked out. The music is perfect for this game, very relaxing and unobtrusive you could listen for hours while playing it without turning it off and is really complimented by the beautiful hand painted art work. The only thing that lets it down is a relatively clunky control system that feels like it has been designed for a D-Pad on a NES more than a PS4’s analog sticks. I look forward to seeing what comes next from Michael and I hope a lot of people keep giving him money so he can afford to hire some game developers to do all the boring bits while he thinks up the genius ideas.