Pedestal is a freeware puzzle, investigation game developed by Uri, the creators of The Crooked Man and its sequels, The Sand Man, The Boogie Man, and The Hanged Man. In this game, players take control of Aoi Ooe, the curious and determined head of Cosmos Academy’s newspaper association, as she investigates the apparent suicide of Shiori Natsume, the most popular girl at school. While it is a very intriguing game, a big content warning accompanies it. Not only does it deal with the topic of suicide, but it also deals with other heavy subject matters, so it’s definitely not a game for everybody.
Something else I should mention is that this game was developed in WOLF RPG Editor, which is a similar software to RPG Maker. I’m aware the media doesn’t often cover these kinds of games, but I wanted to let people know that they exist and they can be very worthwhile. These types of games often run even on weak hardware due to the simple engine mostly aimed at traditional, top-down RPGs.
The characters and story
Similar to Uri’s previous games, I feel the writing for Pedestal is on point. The characters are flawed in believable ways and deal with believable conflicts. Each one of them is very distinct, and their personalities are very well-defined. All of them have secrets, even those who don’t seem like they do.
Additionally, the story and pacing feel very polished. The biggest plot twist in the game was foreshadowed early on but in a subtle way. I didn’t notice the foreshadowing until after the plot twist had begun happening.
While the controls are simple, Pedestal features a few interesting mechanics. Among them is the Interview Mode. Whenever this is active, players will be able to ask people around the school about various topics to get information for solving the mystery around Shiori’s death. Any NPCs that can be questioned will have a speech bubble with an exclamation mark hovering around them. This is how players obtain most of the necessary or optional information. This mechanic is certainly interesting, and it fits well with the game’s atmosphere. Information is also color-coded, depending on what kind of information it is, which helps the players organize.
Additionally, there are several small challenges in Pedestal that players can either win or lose. Losing leads to a Game Over screen, but even if you didn’t save immediately before the challenge, you can (usually) retry from the start of the challenge. This saves the player a lot of frustration, which is definitely a good thing.
Pedestal has three separate endings. One of them is the default ending, while the others require you to obtain specific pieces of information. Most of the time, locating information is easy, as players can simply question everyone they can find in each interview section. However, there are a few pieces of information that are a bit more challenging to obtain.
While the game does explain what the differences are for each puzzle, the solution is, more often or not, obtuse. Finding the piece of information required for the other two endings is even more obtuse and found in a different puzzle. Pedestal doesn’t give hints about what you must do to get these pieces of information and it only becomes clear in retrospect of clearing the puzzle.
Level of polish
Unfortunately, when compared to other Uri games, I found Pedestal has a slightly lower level of polish. I don’t mean any game-breaking bugs, of course, but I found that the game was slightly unresponsive at times, and I ran into crashes while playing through it. That said, my laptop is fairly old and weak, so that could have been the cause.
That said, there was a pretty significant bug during my playthrough of Pedestal. In the main menu, there’s an option called Statue which displays statues of the various characters of the game after they open up to you. For some reason, the statue of Sakura, Shiori’s younger sister, eventually disappeared from my menu. The statue never returned even after getting all three endings. Aside from that, the translation quality of Pedestal was noticeably lower than usual for vgperson. While I wouldn’t consider it outright bad, there are numerous typos in the game text. This, I feel, can take away from the experience.
Pedestal is definitely not a perfect game. However, I enjoyed it greatly despite its faults. If you feel like its content wouldn’t bother you too much, there really is no reason to not give it a try. It’s free, and it should run even on aging hardware. It’s also not very long, so getting the three endings won’t take up too much of your time.
Photo credit: The images used are owned by Uri and have been made available for press usage.