Since the release of the PlayStation 3 Sony have done a very good job introducing original titles to the PSN. So far, Q-Games have been one of the best developers releasing two PixelJunk games: PixelJunk Racers and PixelJunk Monsters; the latter being one of the best downloadable titles on the system. Now, the third game in the series, PixelJunk Eden, has arrived on the PSN bringing yet another style of unique gameplay.
You take control of a Grimp, a small creature with the ability to jump and use a silk-like texture to swing from objects. The whole game revolves around these two manoeuvres as you travel through different Gardens (PixelJunk Eden’s levels) trying to find objects known as Spectra. There are five to find in each Garden, and your goal is to climb high enough to reach them. To do this you need to collect pollen that will help seeds grow up into massive plants. Pollen is contained within small enemies that float around the level; to extract it you can either jump into them, or swing around an object so that your silk hits them. Although this gameplay mechanic may sound simple, it can be very fun and addictive.
Once you get into the swing of things (no pun intended) you’ll be traversing each garden with ease, collecting pollen and making your way towards each Spectre. There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had here, and it’s the kind of simple yet effective gameplay the PixelJunk series is famous for. Sadly, you’re given a time limit on each garden, even though it feels like you should be free to explore every nook and cranny in a relaxing manner. You can extend the time by finding Spectre’s and other small objects known as crystals. Most of the crystals are randomly located around each garden, but more can be activated by fulfilling certain seeds, or collecting enough pollen in one go to create a chain. Once you reach higher levels the crystals become sparse so you’ll have to create more pollen chains to extend your time limit, adding a new dimension to the gameplay.
“Sadly, you’re given a time limit on each garden, even though it feels like you should be free to explore every nook and cranny in a relaxing manner.”In later levels you’ll be presented with additional challenges as the enemies become more dangerous. You can’t actually die in Pixeljunk Eden, but enemies will knock you off your platform which can become aggravating, especially when you’re very high and end up falling all the way to the bottom. Another annoyance is the way you have to collect the Spectra. Rather than being able to collect all five at once you can only collect one new Spectra at any one time. For instance, the first time you enter a new garden you’ll find one Spectra and then it will kick you back out to the lobby. So, the next time you enter the garden you have to collect the one Spectra you already found, and then a new one. To collect all five and complete the garden you’ll have to enter it five different times, finding a new Spectra each time whilst still collecting the old one’s as well. It’s quite a big flaw as some levels can get tedious, taking away from the initial addictiveness of the gameplay.
Luckily PixelJunk Eden does a decent job of making the same level feel a little bit different by changing the colour theme and music every time you find a Spectra. The graphics are superb, with unique plant designs that look great on both a TV and PSP (if you’re using remote play). Sometimes the camera will pan out and you can see all the different colours and patterns that form each garden. It’s a joy to look at and makes it one of the most interesting looking games on the PlayStation 3. Once again it’s simple but effective.
“The graphics are superb, with unique plant designs that look great on both a TV and PSP”The music also stands out with some great techno beats. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of that type of music or not, PixelJunk Eden will get you bobbing your head no matter what. You can really get into a groove as the music pounds out, and you fly around the levels, swinging into pollen and destroying enemies. Everything combines to create an amazing gameplay experience that provides some of the best thrills on the system.
On the extra’s side of things you can actually record yourself playing, and then upload it straight to YouTube, in-game. This is a great feature that should hopefully build up a community, sharing videos and competing for high scores via the leader boards. Custom soundtracks are also available, but it seems the developers don’t want you to use them (can you blame them?) since you have to collect 50 Spectra’s in order to use it. There is also a local co-op mode which lets up to three players travel through the gardens, which can be great fun.
PixelJunk Eden is one of the best downloadable games on the PlayStation 3. The gameplay and controls are easy to get a hold of, and once you master the different gameplay techniques you’ll be gliding through the gardens with ease. Sadly, it does have some flaws, such as the timer becoming an irritation as you just want to relax and explore; and the levels become repetitive and redundant as you have to enter them over and over again to collect all of the Spectre. But despite all of this, PixelJunk Eden really is a game you have to experience. Sony have done a great job getting a hold of great talent like Q-Games, building up a library of original and inventive games; and PixelJunk Eden is most definitely one of them.