The genre of game that brought me back from over a decade of not gaming at all was rhythm – Dance, Dance Revolution, among others – and so I have a bit of a soft spot for games that utilize music in a straightforward way. Pivvot, while not strictly in the same group (it’s in the twitch-based category), brought back a bit of nostalgia, which softened the blow when I found myself to be kind of terrible at it. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it – as you’ll see, this is quite a fun game – but like games such as Super Hexagon and Hyper Gauntlet, if your reflexes are rusty, prepare to spend a lot of time hitting the “reset” key.
The premise of Pivvot, by Fixpoint Productions, is simply to keep away from items that come up along the track upon which you travel. “You” are a ball suspended by a shadow, tied to a track that pulsates with a beat. As you move forward, you press either the left or right mouse buttons (a mechanic that definitely takes some getting used to) to pivot to either side, thus getting out of the way of danger. When you hit an item, the game starts again at a checkpoint. If you hit enough checkpoints in a row without running into an obstacle, the music becomes more intense, the colors change, and the game visuals become more dynamic. The track is procedurally-generated, and no two playthroughs are the same. Pivvot also features local co-op multiplayer, and 8 different game types, ranging from standard “Voyage” and endless levels, to expert challenges that may drive some players insane (including “Looper,” which challenges you to do as many 360-degree loops as possible before hitting an object).
Graphics warning: photosensitive individuals should take care when playing this game. There is flashing, as well as a quick-changing color scheme, which could lead to migraines or seizures in some players. Please exercise some caution if you have a history of these conditions. Other than that, this game is graphically exactly as the creator intended: Simple. The flashing is about as fancy as things get. The movement is smooth, the differentiation between objects is clear, and the time to react (i.e. the distance between your focal point and the next obstacle) is reasonable, while still being a challenge. For most players, these graphics are quite perfect for losing yourself in hours of play, as there’s not enough of a difference to cause you to be aware of the accurate passage of time.
The music is thumping, pulsating, electronic candy, engineered to keep you hooked and keep your heart rate up; some songs measured at a rate of 175bpm. While this is not strictly a rhythm game, the gameplay seems to be affected by the music, with more obstacles present during faster beats. I won’t lie, the higher BPM made me more irritated when I failed, because I was so hyped up by the music (my background as a musician, as you may have guessed, affects me quite a bit), but it also made me want to keep trying, to keep the music going. That’s honestly it as far as sound design goes in this game, but it’s enough. As this started out on mobile, it’s not terribly surprising to see why Fixpoint kept Pivvot so simple when bringing it to PC, especially since the formula has worked well for them so far.
Pivvot recently released on Steam (July 14), and is currently selling for $4.99 for the base game, $8.99 for the game + soundtrack, or $14.99 for a 4-pack. (Keep in mind that the multiplayer is currently only local co-op.) While there are some who would find this type of game boring or repetitive, the core audience (players who enjoy high-energy games requiring fast reaction times) should really enjoy it. I think I’ll leave it for when I’ve had a bit less coffee, however.