The Pedestrian PS5 Review – Skookum Arts LLC brings us one of the first PS5 puzzle games, The Pedestrian, which is a puzzle game like no other. And when I say no other, I really do mean no other. It truly is a one of a kind game, just a quick glance over the State of Play trailer from last year shows how different and unique this title really is.
It’s a superb mix of monochrome puzzles and real-world backdrops and really gives the game a unique and striking look. This title has an amazing eclectic art style, luckily, the gameplay does match up to it to create something quite special.
The Pedestrian PS5 Review
A Good Sign?
As your otherworldly, sentient scribble descends on the earth it asks you to pick a male or female host. These hosts look like they were picked from the signs on the front of toilet doors or emergency exit signs.
As will be commonplace in this review, The Pedestrian continuously thrust upon me just how abstractly unique this game is. After picking which simple avatar you wish to control, you are taken through a small tutorial segment.
Here your button presses are shown on small retro monitors set into the backdrop of the environment. This environment is where your character moves between signage and parts of the scene in ways I have not seen in a game before. You glide between puzzles zooming around lifelike environments in an almost dreamlike fashion, it’s quite fascinating to see in action.
I was meandering through whiteboards, signs and before you know it I had worked my way through the opening facility. Finally, I was released from my weird factory-based prison and my abstract adventure had started. I was not sure what I expected from watching the original trailer but I was digging the game a lot at this point. It was weird but a good weird.
One of the things I value most in gaming is new experiences. We do not get them enough these days and this is one thing The Pedestrian definitely is, a fresh experience. Yes, it borrows from other puzzle and platforming games here and there but nothing else plays or looks anything like this bizarre title.
Anything But Pedestrian
Everything in The Pedestrian starts off nice enough, move through a sign, jump over some gaps, and breezily complete a few light puzzles. But, most of the puzzles in The Pedestrian work on several levels. You have to get to the exit to move forwards but this can involve keys, switches and my favourite of the puzzle systems, movable mini-puzzle screens.
What I mean by mini-puzzle screens is that some puzzles are split into several small, movable segments. In these instances not only do you have to work out what order these screens must be completed in but how to connect them together. It gives these puzzle segments a jigsaw-like quality.
This system, yet again, drives home how unconventional and brilliantly distinctive the Pedestrian is. To join these segments together you have to drag connections between exits or ladders; you can re-arrange these lines and the puzzle segments, but if you move a connection you have travelled through, the screen resets, making your planning paramount and slightly increasing the difficulty.
After playing a few PlayStation 4 games recently I had semi-forgotten how good the DualSense controller is. The haptics are simply superb. When traversing these puzzles every footstep you take, everything you move through is felt through the controller. It’s subtle, nothing like Astro’s Playroom, but it’s there. It really adds weight to the puzzles and movement of your little avatar.
I was especially impressed by the train segments, a bit like Miles Morales, the sensation of train tracks is well simulated on the controller and really feels like your riding over metal segments a locomotive would ride on. It’s a small touch but it adds so much to the overall experience.
The visuals are outstanding, with the PS5 version looking superb. The stark contrast of the monochrome puzzles set against the realistic backdrops is stunning. Whether your puzzles are set on signs, the green screen of old terminals, or meeting room boards, they really pop against the gritty streets, dank tunnels, and murky underground areas. Much like the gameplay, the visuals of The Pedestrian are like nothing I have played before and I adored how the game looks.
The music is similarly apt. It’s simple and boring, which may sound like a bad thing but when your travelling signs and snaking through boring industrial estates, it fits flawlessly. Like music in a lift, you just expect it to be a certain way and the soundtrack for the Pedestrian just enhances the gameplay and immerses you in these drab yet encompassing puzzles. Every aspect of The Pedestrian’s presentation fits together like one of the games jigsaw-like puzzles. It’s all absolutely perfectly.
No Sign of Weakness
The Pedestrian will not float everyone’s gaming boat, however, if you are a fan of puzzle games or fancy something very different I full endorse this quirky title.
It’s not overly long or bloated in any way and remains interesting all the way through. Its presentation is top tier, from its striking art style to the mundane music; everything fits together like a beautifully constructed piece of art. Fans of puzzle games and platformers will slide straight into this game’s clever puzzles, but the unique variations on sometimes overused puzzle mechanics really elevate this game to the top of the list of recent puzzle games.
Review code kindly provided by the publisher.