The Pedestrian is a delightful game involving manipulating street signs to connect together pieces of a side-scrolling jigsaw puzzle.
The Pedestrian is a side-scrolling puzzle game developed and published by Skookum Arts that released on Steam on January 30, 2020. Puzzle games are my jam at the moment. I’ve just had daughter #2 come along a couple of weeks ago so my wife and I are in this weary sleep deprived state. When we do get some downtime, we love chilling with gaming but don’t have the energy to play most games. Puzzle games though have this way of stimulating the brain without much effort on our part and that’s exactly what we’ve been after lately. I can tell you that The Pedestrian is equal parts fascinating as well as fulfilling as you solve the steadily harder challenges.
The Pedestrian has you control the figure of your choice of a man or woman. Initially you move along a whiteboard where you can see some architect’s drawings. You move across to an illustration of a door and then walk through it. The camera follows you as you seemingly walk within the wall of the office you’re in. The camera pans out to show your little stick figure running across a door sign, out one door and then through another, continuing through the next wall. You next appear on a chalkboard but this time there are two pieces of lined paper, both with 1 black door and 1 white door.
A black door signifies an exit and a white door is a passageway of sorts, however at present the white door is closed shut. You can see a yellow sticky note on the chalk board with a puzzle piece drawn on it. This signifies that this scene is a puzzle and a little television prompts you to press ‘F’. Pressing F puts you into a mode that allows you to draw a connection between the puzzle pieces. Connecting the two white doors forms a solid black connection line meaning a link has been formed. Pressing F puts you back into exploration mode and then you’re able to run through the white door to the other piece of paper and progress forward.
The camera then pans as you run through the wall, transitioning from the office scene to a workbench that has another tv and a white sign. The TV prompts you to use spacebar to jump up onto the next platform to go through the door. The camera follows you to another white sign with two platforms to jump across. The scene then moves into a warehouse passing a parked truck and then the stick figure appears on a bent sign leaning up against a curb. Entering the next room of the warehouse, you come across the next puzzle that consists of three yellow signs. One of them has a black door with two arrows pointing to it, signifying this is the puzzle exit door. There are connection points on the edges of the sign pieces.
It’s here that you learn you must move the pieces so that straight connection lines can be drawn with an angle no more than 160 degrees to be exact. If you’re trying to make a connection and have dotted lines then you must try another piece to be able to connect the dots. The next puzzle introduces a ladder mechanism where again you must manipulate the puzzle pieces to connect ladders together and doors to be able to navigate to the exit door.
These first few puzzles have given you the essential gameplay elements of The Pedestrian, the rest you are left to figure out yourself. Later on you will need to find and move blocks that help you jump higher ledges, find keys to unlock doors, flick switches to turn on elevators and even dodge hazards such as laser beams and buzz saws. Eventually you’ll be faced with multiple complex puzzles that require connecting to external electrical circuits which power up other sections, and down the rabbit hole I went. There were many times where I had to sit back, tracing the possible entries, exits and connections in my head before then trying to enact them in the game. I spent a lot of time scratching my head and humming to myself, deep in thought. Then all of a sudden it will click, you connect the dots and then smile as you watch the little stick figure navigate the puzzle pieces to get to the exit. This part of the game is like watching those intricate engineering experiments where they push a marble into this myriad of contraptions as it finds it’s way to the end.
The learning curve doesn’t jump too steeply across the game, except when I took a break for a couple of weeks. Coming back to the game was a bit jarring trying to remember everything but I was able to pick it up again relatively quickly. The other aspect of the game I loved was the incredibly detailed 3D backdrops of the cityscape we were exploring. We play in a storeroom/warehouse to outside the building down into the basement and then into a train subway. We progress into the control centre of the train, under a bridge into a sewer and back up to street level via a construction manhole. From here the backdrop progresses to a university, the inner city and up to rooftops. There’s alot of stunning details to see in the background if you look beyond the puzzle you’re concentrating on. There are some soothing music tracks that play in the background, however if you spend alot of time on a puzzle, the music finishes leaving you with the ambient sounds of the scene you’re in. It’s a bit jarring, almost as if the game is saying, “hurry up!”
Later in the game, the connections you make in the puzzle have an effect on the world behind the puzzles. You sometimes need to solve part of a puzzle that then unlocks access to another part. This is where it got a little bit tricky because, after you’ve spent time mapping out one section of the puzzle, it turns out that it’s not the correct solution and there’s no ‘reset puzzle’ button/option. You also can’t reset a connection once its been made as it resets the whole puzzle, at least until you get to the rooftops stages. You must unravel your current workings and remember how the puzzle pieces started to the be able to start from scratch again. I got myself confused numerous times with the larger late game puzzles and almost quit, but then sat back and was able to figure it out. Aside from this though, the puzzle and challenge progresses naturally without any steep learning curves, and it was a pleasure to play through.
Overall I gave the game an 8/10. The Pedestrian is a delightful game involving manipulating street signs to connect together pieces of a side-scrolling jigsaw puzzle. One may ask, how can you make something interesting out of street signs? Skookum Arts have produced a fantastic game with this concept with 7 years of hard work and The Pedestrian is one of my favourite puzzles games of recent years.
This review utilised a Steam code provided by the developers. The Pedestrian is available now on Steam for AUD28.95.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis