Name: PixelJunk Eden
Platform: PlayStation Network
Forget everything you know about PixelJunk series, this game has nothing to do with either a group of cars racing or a whole bunch of monsters. In fact, Pixeljunk Eden doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, and very little about this game can be compared to any other. The game features some of the simplest graphics on the PlayStation 3 and makes no use of the system’s unique features, relying solely on addicting gameplay and sleek visuals.
Oh boy, here is the part of the review where I try and describe the gameplay without making the game sound like crap. Well, here we go: up to three people can play cooperatively as Grimps, little shrimp-like creatures that can attach to plants and swing using silk. By colliding with floating pollen, the Grimps can activate seeds, which grow into plants, acting like platforms to reach objects called “Spectra.” There, different enough for you? I know, none of that really makes sense, but trust me when I say the gameplay mechanics work. Pixeljunk Eden has a well functioning physics system that make the swinging and jumping mechanics work wonderfully, and jumping from plant to plant, collecting pollen along the way is a calming and euphoric feeling. For as strange as it is the game is also as fun and addicting as anything else on the PlayStation Network.
The levels are separated into different Gardens, not unlike Mario Galaxies, with each of the ten Gardens having five Spectra to collect, and a certain amount of Spectra being required to open up more gardens. Each of the different levels contains different layouts and color schemes, making them all feel like a different experience. As you progress throughout the game, it can become extremely challenging to continue, especially when it keeps you on a time limit that you must keep an eye on. It is at these times when online multiplayer would be best. Being able to jump into a game with a friend to beat an especially difficult level would be a huge help, but alas, Pixeljunk Eden is a strictly offline affair. It limits the replayability of the game a bit, but it’s just too damn fun of an experience to let those issues get in the way.
Even the offline multiplayer is flawed, and while it allows you to work cooperatively to make your way towards Spectra, a spastic camera makes sure that even that doesn’t work exactly as planned. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to which Grimp the camera is following and it will occasionally change without warning, and it can be fairly frustrating. It doesn’t get in the way too much, but letting the players know who the camera is currently on would definitely help the multiplayer.
There isn’t a “plot,” so to speak, so you need to use your imagination to come up with any sense of a story to the game. I like to think that Peter Parker ate a radioactive shrimp after being bitten by the spider and was transported back to the Garden of Eden to build the earth, but you build your own story. Even without a plot, somewhat stunted multiplayer offerings, and a few issues with the game design, Pixeljunk Eden is definitely worth checking out. Its unique gameplay isn’t for everyone, but Q-Games was kind enough to give an extremely in depth demo on the PSN Store. Give that a try, and if it tickles your fancy pick up the full game.