The Pillar: Puzzle Escape – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by Paper Bunker and published by Eastasiasoft, The Pillar: Puzzle Escape is an exploration focused puzzle adventure set in an unknown world. Explore the mysterious islands, scenic landscapes and solve the riddles you encounter as you seek to escape the maze of puzzles that hold you captive. This title is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, links to each version of the game will be at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Eastasiasoft for providing the copy of The Pillar: Puzzle Escape that was used for this article. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be omitting the story segment from the review as there is little in the way of a narrative that plays out in this title, so I will be moving directly into the gameplay section.

Gameplay – The Pillar is a first person exploration and puzzle solving title, using a style that is reminiscent of other titles in the genre like Myst, but with a streamlined approach. In each stage, the player must solve various puzzle set ups including pattern placement, connecting the ends of two colors without crossing another color and hidden combinations locks. The majority of puzzles have only a single solution to them, however, puzzles that are open to the player can be attempted in any order, giving freedom to approach each stage differently.

Each area that the player encounters has its own progression system. The way to proceed through each zone include activating pressure switches, moving items between areas and pushing door buttons in a specific order. This approach can be a little troublesome as pressure switches and other elements can be hard to see when hidden, causing more time to be spent in each area than is needed. There are also items hidden throughout the areas for the player to collect, adding to a completion counter for that stage.

The puzzles themselves slowly increase in difficulty as new ones are introduced, starting of simple but becoming very challenging quickly taking multiple attempts to complete. The capture feature of the switch can help to ease some of the challenges, allowing players to record patterns and note down the solutions during play. The screen shot button is also useful to prevent back tracking when trying to solve number/symbol combination puzzles.

The overall gameplay of the game has a relaxing feel to it as there is virtually zero punishment for failing the puzzles, there are no enemies in the game and without any threats, the pacing is up to the player. I did have a couple of issues during play which did make it a little frustrating for me to play. The first is the frame drops that occur when there are particle effects on screen, making the game slow down a lot. Second was the inconsistency with item collision, which caused difficulty moving some of the items for puzzles.

There is not much else to discuss without spoiling the rest of the game, so I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game.

Controls – The Pillar has a simple control method, using only a couple of buttons to play through the entire game. The thumbsticks control movement, with the ability to move and look in all directions. The right bumper allows the player to run, while also being used in puzzles with the left bumper. The A button activates items/objects and the B button will go back/cancel actions. The controls in general are comfortable and work well, but do have some inconsistencies in both handheld and docked modes.

Presentation – visually, The Pillar is a pleasing experience with a great use of simplistic shapes/designs for the environments and vibrant colors for the puzzle sections. The only let down with the graphical quality is the framerate issues that occur when there is a lot of effects at once. The sound is pleasing, with gentle music that accompanies the player through the different locations, adding a sense of wonder to the more fantastical locations.

Final Thoughts – overall, I had a pleasant although short time with The Pillar: Puzzle Escape. The game isn’t the longest and can be cleared in a few hours, but with the completion percentages that are tied to each stage giving the player a reason to return to the game. The puzzles are fun with enough diversity to keep me engaged with throughout the experience, which I praise the developers for as it made The Pillar a game that you can sit down with during a cold night and lose yourself in it.

In the end, I give The Pillar: Puzzle Escape a final score of 4/5. The gameplay and puzzles are engaging, the atmosphere is relaxing and the hidden collectable objects reward repeated play of the stages. This game is a delightful experience that can be enjoyed alone or bundled up with your significant other on a cold winter night. If you want to check the game out for yourself, links to each version of the game will be below.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE) – currently discounted at time of publishing

Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE)

Link to Xbox One version (HERE)

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