Pode is a beautiful co-op focused indie game. It gives the uniquely optimistic experience of Bluder and Global, exploring an ancient civilisation. The puzzle based game launched in June for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a co-op experience different to most others on the market. The game will soon to coming to other platforms, and is still making a splash months after release. We caught up Yngvill Hopen, CEO of developer Henchman & Goon, to discuss Pode, it’s background, and what makes it unique.
Cliqist: Hello! Pode was only released for the Switch. Was there something about Pode that made it at home on the Switch compared with other platforms?
Yngbill Hopen: When the Switch was announced, we were mid-development for Pode, and we were just blown away at how good a match it seemed to be. Pode is a game that is made to be shared, and the Switch with it’s multiple play modes and the detachable joy con for co-op in any mode just fits that so well. Our plan was always to release multi platform though, and these days we are working on the PS4 version.
The switch has been big for couch co-op, but usually not in the same way as Pode. Why did you decide to make a puzzle/adventure game co-op focused?
One of the reasons I wanted to make Pode was a wish to play games with my young son. I personally love puzzle/adventure games and I wanted to make something that wasn’t stressful in any way, but invited exploration, cooperation and conversation. Podeis a game that can be played at a slow pace while you take in the views and discuss solutions. You don’t have to be an experienced gamer to enjoy it. And we didn’t just want to make a co-op game, but we wanted people to really interact with each other in a non competitive way while playing it.
The visual style is quite unique. Was there a specific element of Norwegian art that was the inspiration?
Pode is heavily inspired by the national romantic era of Norwegian art. It’s a very short, but defining era of Norwegian culture. In particular, you can see influences from rose painting and bunad (the Norwegian national costume) embroidery in the flora of the game.
Outside or Art and Nature, were there any games that influenced the art style?
We have been looking to several other games for inspiration, both regarding style and gameplay. On the visual side we’ve taken some inspiration from the beautiful atmospheric visuals of Journey and Unravel among others.
Indie Games growing in influence has lead to a great diversification in the background of games. Was there a conscious effort to make a game that felt Norwegian?
Definitely. Norway has a very old and rich culture. And although the viking era is the one most commonly associated with our corner of the world, there are so many other interesting and beautiful directions to be inspired from. For me personally, the national romantic era has always been a favourite, and to take an art form that is so traditional and two dimensional in it’s expression and put it into a 3D digital world was a very fun and rewarding challenge.
Positivity and Conflict
Most games are built around conflict but Pode seems to try and keep everything positive. What was the thought process for it?
It was in our mindset from the beginning of the process. Although there are many non-violent games out there, there always seem to be a level of destruction. You smash things for loot or jump on enemies etc. We wanted to make a game that didn’t have any negative actions in it, but in stead focused completely on positive interaction both between characters and with the world. Every action is about adding something to the world, making a positive impact on your surroundings to reach your goal.
Where did the idea to make a game about friendship between a rock and a fallen star come from?
The original idea for Pode was a light character and a magnet character combining abilities to solve puzzles. So light and magnetism is basically where everything began, and our characters, Bulder and Glo, kind of just emerged very naturally from that.
Release and The Future
Is there anything you would have done differently? Either with the game, or in your development process?
There is always room to improve, and for us as a studio, seeing that this is our first relatively big production, we definitely find room for improvement in our development process as well as with production and publishing. However, we are all fairly happy with how everything has turned out, and we haven’t had any huge set backs or obstacles along the way. Its much more a case of taking what we’ve learned and streamline it for future projects.
It’s been out a little while now, were you happy with the response to the game? Did it meet your expectations?
The response has been above all expectations. Of course it’s not all perfect, but we are getting so much love from both reviewers and players. It seems like people really connect with our two little characters, and we get a lot of messages from people who tell us about their experiences with their kids or SO’s and how they’ve enjoyed playing the game together. And I can’t express how much that means to us.
What’s next from your studio?
Right now we are working on getting Pode to other platforms, but we have also just started a new project that we find very exciting. It’s a bit soon to start talking about it though, so we’ll have to get back to that at a later point.
Our thanks to Yngvill for taking the time to answer some questions.