On September 20th, 2007, a little-known company
released an eponymous slot-car racer to little fanfare. The game was a nominal
diversion that could be remembered for its simplicity- players moved a small car
left and right along a looping track. Four months later, critics and fans took
notice of the next release, PixelJunk Monsters. This game was a recreation of
the popular freeware game, Desktop Tower Defense, where players build a
collection of defense turrets to stop a stream of marauders. Lately, acclaim was been steadily building for
the company’s newest release- PixelJunk Eden.
In the game, players control a small shrimp-like character
called a Grimp that has the ability to jump through the level with a double tap
of the ‘X’ button. The other move in the protagonist’s repertoire is the
ability to swing in a circle, not unlike the main character in Wik: Fable of
Souls for PC and 360. Players, however can only make two revolution (or
encounter an enemy) before their delicate line snaps. By jumping and swinging,
player break open pollen pods, whose particles float and open nearby plants.
Once these plants grow, players can reach the games objective, touching ‘spectra’;
glowing icons placed near the top of the playfield.
As complicated and abstract as gameplay sounds, Eden’s objective-based
gameplay quickly becomes clear after a few minutes. In fact, one of the title’s
greatest faults lies in its reliance on arcade game trappings- from time limits
to pesky enemies. For a game as visually and conceptually unique as Eden, running
out of time to complete a stage can be a frustrating experience. We wonder why
Pixeljunk didn’t offer gamers the ability to play without such restrictions.
Still, it would be a shame to pass the title up; we have
spent hours completely engrossed in some of its early levels. The game has the
ability to support up to four players, which can be frustrating for a player
thrown off-screen, but it’s absolutely captivating to watch when all players are
spinning. The ability to view player rankings, and upload a Youtube gameplay video
is only icing on the cake.
While some gamers may be turned off by the frustration of
the Eden’s latter levels, there’s enough content of manageable difficulty to warrant
a ten-dollar purchase for any PS3 player. We can’t wait for Pixeljunk’s next
release; the company has grown from a creator of typical downloadable software
to one of the most promising firms in our industry.