Pillar

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Pillar Game Poster Image
Confusing puzzler based on personality types misses mark.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Although somewhat cloudy, messages are of empathy, considering what life is like for people unlike yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Since guiding story, concept is somewhat fuzzy, hard to assess whether characters act morally, immorally.

Ease of Play

Straightforward controls, but what you should be doing, in what order aren't straightforward.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pillar is a puzzling, nonlinear downloadable game. There are no immediate, clear goals, as you can go through each level in any order you wish doing different things as you pass through them on a loop. That means you should know that patience is absolutely a prerequisite for trying to get into this and fully appreciate the play. There's no violence or anything objectionable, but the game will befuddle for quite a while before things start to click. 

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What's it about?

PILLAR centers on a group of lost individuals trying to wind their way through a snowy town, ostensibly to search and find a MacGuffin that's said to promise great knowledge and understanding. At least, that's what the description of the game says; it largely has no words, save for menus and a few on-screen prompts, so that facet won't be clear for a while until you get deeper into it. There's a dream or afterworld that seeps into your playthrough here and there, suggesting an ominous vision of the future and the types of regrets people tend to have. But as for how everything ties together, that's left largely unclear and up to the player to figure out.

Is it any good?

This is a confusing game whose core concept is unclear, which doesn't make it bad or good necessarily -- just largely inaccessible. Ostensibly drawing inspiration from the Myers-Briggs personality types, the game by and large tightly wraps itself around a handful of repeating halls and rooms filled with mini-games. The mini-games, like the rooms they're contained in, are seemingly meant to embody different types of people and how they relate to the world around them. For example, a man who is "capable" collects money and flips switches that turn off or destroy lamps. This man walks and walks for a while, eventually meeting a "giving" person who flips differently colored switches to undo that damage. But why and what that means is unclear and, unfortunately, handled with a clunky and basic execution; the game seems to think it's saying more than it really is. That you can, at any moment, jump around from one spot to another in any other character's arc only complicates the overall lack of cohesion or ability to appreciate the significance of what's happening.

There are a number of other pairs of people who come together in opposing sequences such as the one mentioned and another dream world or visions of an afterlife that are, honestly, foggy in how they're related and connected. As such, this isn't a "good" game or a "bad" one but a confusing and fuzzy one. On the upside, though, it's a gentle, quiet, and subtle exploration on empathy, albeit one that requires a good deal of patience and an even greater deal of trial and error to fully grasp. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about personality types. Why do some people seem to rub others the wrong way, even when they don't mean to? Why are some people the way they are?

  • How do you deal with being confused? What does that say about you and how you communicate your feelings? 

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love puzzles

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