Pulse is conceptually heavy game where you play as a blind girl named Eva as she explores a fantasy world through sound. Developed by Pixel Pi following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Pulse took the devs several years to make, and as much as I hate to criticise games, it could have used several more.
Nothing is wrong with the game’s premise, playing as a blind person and interacting with an environment through sound is such an awesome idea, but it just isn’t fully realised in Pulse and it certainly isn’t fun. You may as well have sight as the end product results in a game with extremely short draw distances and strobing scenery, in which a lack of vision is barely a noticeable feature. It’s a shame because the game does look great, I was a real fan of the rough cartoony aesthetic and general level designs.
As you move along the strobing levels you find small creatures that are sickeningly cute called Mokos. They can be used to help you along your way by throwing them into the distance to “see” what they bounce off of, or by imprisoning them in small cages to open doors. Overall their addition isn’t huge, but they are cute enough to make you want to keep interacting with the game.
As you progress throughout the world you’re visited by a crow with an eye in its mouth that talks to you and delivers some semblance of a plot, however this is vague and more often than not completely frustrating to listen to. The voice for the crow sounds like recorded dialogue played backwards, which is creepy in small doses, but insanely irritating when played for long periods of time.
The game kind of features enemies, but that’s a poor use of the word. There are wolf like creatures that look at you, and if they look at you for too long you just kind of die and respawn to be stared at some more. Getting past them was more sigh inducing than challenging. There are also some spindly legged giant monsters that stomp around. They didn’t really do much past what seemed scripted, so again, not really a challenge.
It took me around 50 minutes to complete the game, which considering its US$14.99 price tag is pretty awful. Saying that, I really didn’t want to keep playing past what I had done, so the credits rolling were quite a relief. If you are so inclined, the game did have hidden orbs around the world that you can collect, but that’s hardly a reason to go back for more.
A real saving grace of the game is the soundtrack, which is well put together and has great atmosphere to it, but sadly it isn’t enough to pull this game round.
Overall my experience with Pulse left me feeling angry and frustrated. Angry because I felt like I had just wasted an hour of my time and frustrated because Pulse really could have been something amazing. I can’t imagine what the people who backed Pulse on Kickstarter must feel.
Pros: Great concept. Nice art. Good soundtrack. Mokos are so cute they made me feel sick.
Cons: Tedious gameplay. Extremely short. Abstract and poorly explained plot. Annoying crow dialogue. Frustrating enemy interactions.