The Pedestrian review: Sign of the times

One of the best one-shot puzzlers in years? Quite possibly. Here’s our review of The Pedestrian…


It’s always a delight to find a puzzle game that has stumbled onto an exciting new premise. The past few years have allowed for a surprising amount of experimentation within the heavily iterated genre, and now The Pedestrian gets to join the ranks of other mind-bending oddities like Superliminal and Manifold Garden.

The Pedestrian’s puzzles centre on who – or what – you play as: a symbol, hopping between street signs in various urban vistas. To progress, you need to connect signage and create entryways to advance through. As the game strolls along, it introduces new concepts like picking up keys, supplying power to gates, and descending through elevators.

The novelty of moving between signs remains as the puzzles start to become more like Daedalian jigsaws, asking you to connect disjointed bits of signage to create a mini-level on the face of cardboard boxes or a restaurant blackboard, all leading back to a branching puzzle hub. It’s here that The Pedestrian could have used some more iteration, the kind I’d be delighted to see in a sequel – there were situations where the signage was just hanging in the air without any bolts attaching it to the background. This is at odds with some of the game’s better puzzles, where you cross streets and move between genuine signage that doesn’t suspend your belief that life is happening around them.

I imagine this is a consequence of the designers butting heads between the minimalist symbolic approach and providing a decent amount of difficulty, so you don’t just race by… I empathise. Regardless, you’ll never dwell on that too much because the puzzles are far too compelling.

The best puzzles in The Pedestrian take place on believable structures, using the environment to draw you into the world.

Because the signs are movable, it often feels like you’re arranging a collage of the thoughts in your brain as you play, leading to idiosyncratic eureka moments. Yet, it’s the tiniest morsels of detail in The Pedestrian that often prove to be the most delightful. Whenever you press pause, you’ll zip to a TV hiding somewhere within that level to establish a charming continuity between scenes.

The camera moves like a one-take piece of cinema and the dynamic Pixar-esque soundtrack swells and recedes with the motion. The game’s pacing is fantastic, and the plot always picks up to provide new scenery as you’re figuring your way out of the few dry puzzles. It’s hands-off for the most part as the game makes you figure out its puzzles without any overbearing tutorials, yet some of the mechanics introduced in the late game – such as the sign-freezing paint system – could have certainly used some extra in-situ explanation, or at least offer a means to review past solutions.

The game is ultimately tied together by one of the most brain-breaking, mouth agape endings in recent memory, which evoked genuine comparisons to Valve’s instant classic Portal, and demands to be seen. An absolutely essential pick-up, I sincerely hope The Pedestrian enters the esteemed annals of puzzle history.

The game’s thoughtful presentation extends to its cracking soundtrack.


There’s always a lot going on behind the scenes in The Pedestrian, and you’ll miss a lot of the details (and a few cute references) if you don’t halt the camera between scenes and train your eyes to inspect the nooks in the background as well as the puzzle-laden foreground.


A whip-smart puzzler with a killer ending, The Pedestrian is one of the best one-shot puzzle games of the past few years.


Genre: Puzzle | Format: PC (tested) | Developer: Skookum Arts | Publisher: Skookum Arts | Price: £15.49 | Release: Out now

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