PixelJunk Eden

I don't know what the main critter is in PixelJunk Eden. It might be a little bug, it might be a pollen monster or it might even be Death of Pollen, presumably from the Discworld universe. What really matters is that the perky little munchkin is one of the most entertaining creatures to control in any game ever. They go by the nickname of grimps, due to their main method of movement being a combination of grip and jump. Though they might be tiny, much like a flea or a baby gerbil, they are extremely capable, with the most obvious highlight being their ability to trail threads of silk from their perches, allowing them to swing around and release when needed. The PixelJunk team use this simply idea, a novel gaming mechanic, and generates another quirky, but highly entertaining experience, Eden.

PixelJunk Eden

Your tiny pollen munchkin is unleashed on a basic two-dimensional world filled with colourful plants that you can traverse to reach access points to a range of levels, called gardens. Each garden has its own theme (with varying colour schemes, music, level structure, enemies and complexity), and the primary goal is to locate a number of glowing spectra in each garden. As you unlock more, plants in the initial level select area will grow, granting you access to new levels. Within each garden, it isn't simply a case of climbing up the available plant growth to reach spectra (particularly since none will be within reach). Players must collect grains of pollen (the easiest way being to spin around a leafy outcropping on a thread of silk, using the silk trail to gather up nearby grains), which will lead to further plant growth and access to higher areas of the garden. It's a reasonably simple idea, but it leads to a lot of entertaining swinging from plant to plant as players strive to reach the highest spectra.

Key to the process are the controls of the tiny hero, which is blessed with an impressive and satisfying jump, and silk strong enough to survive several revolutions before breaking. Climbing and collecting pollen has a time limit imposed though, with your tiny grimp unable to survive for extended periods in the gardens without topping up on grimp juice (or whatever the strange frog-spawn-like orbs are that grant grimps extra time in the garden). It might seem a bit manufactured, but as with all PixelJunk entries on PS3 so far, it works brilliantly as a balanced gaming device. You are forced to keep an eye on your health gauge, topping up when appropriate, whilst also frantically gathering pollen to grow the plants around you. As the levels progress, things get more complicated, with harsher environments, more elaborate structures to build and climb, and a variety of other creatures that, while not always aggressive, will often wreak havoc with your silk lines, sending you plummeting down until you manage to catch hold of something.

PixelJunk Eden

The term garden might be slightly misleading, evidenced by the screenshots, since, although they do contain plants, pollen and other life suggestive of natural wonders, the visual style of PixelJunk Eden is quite unique, and the gardens actually appear quite alien, with brightly coloured plants stabbing into the upper reaches of the level against psychedelic backgrounds. One thing that must be said though is that, despite the graphical simplicity, it's crystal clear and incredibly sharp. Much like LocoRoco, PixelJunk Monsters and others, the simplicity in texture leads to bright, bold and interesting visuals that work very well in their own way, even if they're not suited to modern, immersive, realism-based adventures. The visuals aren't out of place with the quirky score though, with a range of unique techno tracks produced for the game, one for each garden. The songs are actually available for download seperately, an indication of their popularity, and the music certainly complements the game perfectly. The sound effects are somewhat simplistic, but it works well enough, providing a consistent package.

With ten gardens available in the game, and more downloadable with the expansion, Eden Encore, there's plenty to do in the game, with some levels providing a significant challenge. The spectra are not distributed linearly, so there's scope for some tactical thinking and route planning, with no single solution likely to be the best approach to any garden. As a result, the game has a decent lifespan, aided by trophy support, rankings and, most importantly, multiplayer support. You can take to the gardens in a group of up to three grimps, each required to stay within a given range of eachother to allow play on a single screen (there's no split-screen support). It can be very entertaining playing with friends, particularly when you end up attaching yourselves to eachother accidentally causing you to swing round plants together hoping that somebody knows when to let go. It does lead to one of the few niggles in the game though, since the system does occasionally choose to follow the wrong player, seemingly at random, though it could be related to pollen totals or most recent pollen success. Irritatingly, it means that a player might lose their footing and fall a great distance, causing the camera to follow, sacrificing the players still maintaining their position in the higher reaches of the level. It's a disappointing choice and one that could easily have been avoided.

Overall though, there's little to fault with PixelJunk Eden, making it the third entry in the PixelJunk series to prove a great success on the Playstation Store. It's a balanced, but tough single-player challenge, combined with an entertaining multiplayer element, all based around a novel and interesting concept. More games should try and experiment in the way Q-Games have done, and it's very pleasing to see such ingenius games to play.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Q-Games

Developer:

Q-Games

Players:

1-4

Online:

Rankings

Release:

2008-08-06

Trophies:

32

Review summary

Gameplay:

Tremendously addictive, very well balanced

Graphics:

Different, but effective

Sound:

Good music and interesting sounds

Lastability:

Plenty of challenge and things to do

8.0

Pulsar

Post a comment

Comment:

characters remaining.

User comments

MeteorStorm Random Quote Picker

QuoterQuoter

Mr Zurkon

Mr. Zurkon lives only to kill.