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Peridot review: Exploding Tamagotchi

Improvements need to be made to give Peridot the staying power it needs

Pokémon Go became an overnight sensation, with millions of people happily burning out their batteries in order to catch the neighborhood Pidgey and Rattata. Niantic has tried to emulate its success with a number of games from popular IPs, but none have ever been as successful as its first big hit.

Peridot aimed to break the trend. Not only by being a completely new IP, but by trying to give players that desire to open the app daily. Much like your Pokémon, your pet Dots in Peridot, want love, attention, and, most importantly, food in order to grow. Imagine the huge Tamagotchi craze from the ‘90s, except now you can see them in your own home.

Peridot game trailer still

Hatching your first egg into your baby Dot, you use your phone’s camera to watch them frolic around your home. This was my first immediate gripe with Peridot. Your camera has to be open at all times, and there is no way to turn this off like in Pokémon Go. The way your Dot interacts with the environment isn’t seamless, the technology isn’t there yet. You’ll see it phase through furniture and float around in the air, all at stunning 4fps.

We have learned from Pokémon Go that players will overlook any technical issues if the gameplay is engaging enough, and I’m not sure that Peridot is. It has the long list of dailies that you expect from a free-to-play game of this type. Rewards for logging in every day, alongside desires and goals that your Dot sets for you to fulfill. You also have to feed and play with your Dot regularly lest you allow it to look up at you with its big doe eyes.

Niantic games always have a social element, and the social part of Peridot is breeding. It’s framed as a conservation project where you raise and breed your Dots before releasing them out into the wild. Much like Pokéstops, there are hangout points all over your town where you can post your Dot as eligible for breeding, other people can then message you saying they would like to breed and the woohoo can begin.

Peridot game trailer still

I find this whole process embarrassing for me and my polygonal pet. Not only because I am messaging another real-life person asking if their Tamagotchi is down to fuck, but because it all feels very eugenics-y. Dots don’t really need repopulation, and in reality, people are breeding their Dots in order to get the attributes they like, specific fur colors, long angelic wings, or demonic horns. Breeding pets – even fake ones – to get the exact look you want just feels wrong.

While the general loop of raising my Dot did keep me coming back, there were too many technical issues to overlook. I specifically bought my phone because it has an amazing battery that can go three days on a single charge. When my Dot asked me to take it on a 1km walk, the 15 minutes I had the app open had drained my battery by 20%. The rate at which your Dot drains the life from your battery is simply not sustainable for a game you will want to play on the go.

Even if you stay at home to play with your phone constantly plugged into the mains, there is a larger issue. The game is extremely intensive on your phone, and you will feel it overheating in mere minutes of having the app open. I never played for more than 20 minutes at a time, or I would be worried about causing permanent damage.

Peridot game trailer still

Peridot may find its fan base of Tamagotchi nostalgists, but as it stands the technical issues are too much for me to recommend it to anyone. Until Niantic changes these fundamental issues, there is no way for people to play Peridot in the way the company envisions. And it could be good. The general gameplay of raising and playing with your virtual pet is one that has been successful in the past. I’m just not sure how the breeding aspect will sit with fans.

Score 4/10

  • Technical performance: 1/10
  • Art: 7/10
  • Audio and music: 7/10
  • Mechanics and systems: 5/10

Version tested: Mobile (Android)

Peridot technical breakdown

Peridot doesn’t crash, but it doesn’t do much beyond this. The frame rate is single digits low and still struggles to be consistent. It is hugely demanding on your phone, causing the battery to drain and the phone to overheat. I would be worried that consistent playtime would cause irreparable damage to your device. Playing the game is difficult given the lag involved, but it can be okay if you remain on the same screen and don’t try to menu too frequently. Big improvements need to be made before I would recommend it.