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PSN Review – PixelJunk Eden

August 3, 2008 Written by Azariah Ellington II

Introducing new and refreshing methods of gameplay, PixelJunk Eden truly stands out as one of the most unique experiences in this generation of gaming under the influx of games that resemble another’s gameplay style. Not only does PixelJunk Eden offer a satisfying experience to gamers, but also contains a very unique art style accompanied by a mesmerizing soundtrack. This is my official review of PixelJunk Eden for the PlayStation 3.

What I Liked:

  • The Complexity of Simplicity: To me, the system that stands out the most in PixelJunk Eden is how the gameplay actually functions. As you control a little creature called a ‘grimp’, your main objective in the game is to enter various stages called ‘Gardens’ to collect shining items called ‘Spectra’; each Garden contains a maximum of 5 Spectra to be collected. In order to achieve this simple-sounding task, you must first make a path to reach them. As you play through each Garden, floating circular objects called ‘Pollen Prowlers’ will constantly be flowing through the stage; once your grimp touches these, the Pollen Prowlers will dissolve and release pollen. This pollen is needed to fill up empty circles, known as ‘Seeds’, and once a Seed has been fully filled up with enough pollen, your grimp has the option to enter it and unlock a new route to advance through the stage. The only way you can fail a level is if your time limit expires, represented by a bar in the lower-left hand corner of the screen. To avoid from time running out, there are little items called ‘Crystals’ within each stage; little tiny Crystals fill up the time limit gauge one bar at a time while the bigger Crystals greatly restore your time limit. Even though the objective eventually boils down to the usual “retrieve the object to complete the stage”, the actual process to achieve it is an experience that has not been explored yet within the realm of video games.
  • A Silky Situation: Building upon my last point, there are two types of surfaces within the game as you play through each Garden: a rocky, solid surface and a flexible, loose plant-like surface. On the latter type of surface, once your grimp jumps once, it will automatically release a thread of silk in which you can use to swing on in a circular motion around the point in which you initially jumped off of; you can rewind
    your silk with the use of the L2 or R2 button in order to return to the spot you were originally on or you can jump again as you swing around to release your silk. This mechanic provides an even deeper layer of gameplay in the world of PixelJunk Eden as you can take advantage of physics to swing your grimp even further to a higher location which they could not originally reach if they just jumped. On the other hand, the more rocky, solid surfaces do not allow your grimp to release a silk of thread, so jumping off of them is the only way to maneuver on them.
  • Strategic Placement: Expanding upon the core gameplay even further, the various elements of stategy in PixelJunk Eden run deep. Normally, your grimp usually grips onto any surface it lands on, which at times, may not prove to be the most efficient way to reach a specific spot. As the grimp is in the air, the player has the option to make it spin around by holding down any of the face buttons, which will make it pass through any surface until the player lets go of any of the face buttons to make the grimp stop spinning. I find this to be a very handy feature within the game, as it proves to be useful in navigating around the Gardens without many hassles.
  • An Interactive Menu: A neat feature found in the game is how the main menu grows in correlation with the number of Gardens the player has unlocked and the number of Spectra they have collected. You can also change the way the main menu looks through little mini-objects near a couple of Gardens.
  • Recording Your Efforts and Experiences: One of the most phenomenal aspects found in PixelJunk Eden is allowing the player to record their gameplay session without the need of a capture card. The game features a built-in video recording system that you can use either to save onto your Playstation 3 hard-drive or upload it directly to YouTube, though the main difference between the two methods is the time limitation; the player can only upload a maximum of 10 minutes of gameplay to YouTube which is still a good amount of time for such an innovative feature. To those who are worried about the quality of your video on YouTube, fear not. It looks quite decent in high quality on YouTube; below is my demonstration of the feature as I navigate in the main menu. Note that there are minor spoilers in the sense of how much of my main menu I’ve unlocked and some of the devices found within the later parts of the game.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAcmyLUbWhA&hl=en&fs=1]

  • Spellbinding Beats: The soundtrack of PixelJunk Eden is simply hypnotizing, but in a good way. Composed by Baiyon, a Kyoko-based multimedia artist and DJ, the tracks all feature a very different style from one another ranging from quite mellow to excitingly upbeat. The main menu and each of the Gardens each have their own unique soundtrack and the instruments within each song flow quite smoothly; it carves the proper tone and atmosphere of relaxation for PixelJunk Eden.
  • Trophy Support: Even though collecting more Spectra for each Garden adds to further replayability, PixelJunk Eden also supports the newly implemented Trophies for the Playstation 3. It contains time-consuming and challenging tasks that will definitely require a bit of play-time to achieve, such as unlocking all Seeds within a Garden or collecting all the Spectras in the game. It also contains more unique Trophies, including collecting 10 Pollen Prowlers at once and collecting 500 Pollen Prowlers in one gameplay session in a Garden.
  • Local Co-op: PixelJunk Eden supports up to 3 players at once through a local multiplayer feature. Co-op mode greatly enhances the way you play through a Garden since the multiple grimps can grip onto each other and jump off of each other, which creates some interesting tactics on how to complete a Garden.
  • >Remote Play: For those who have a Playstation Portable, PixelJunk Eden is one of the few games that support Remote Play. Through this, you are able to access your Playstation 3 system through your Playstation Portable and directly stream the game, either through the Internet or a Private Network with your Playstation 3, into it. The controls remain the same and you will be able to still collect Trophies as well when you are playing PixelJunk Eden on Remote Play.
Did you ever think you'd be gardening on a PSP?

Did you ever think you'd be gardening on a PSP?

  • Artistically Enthralling On the Eyes: Every time I begin to play PixelJunk Eden, I feel as if I’m actively controlling a colorful, lively, and beautiful abstract painting. The color schemes are a good departure of mdoern gaming’s focus on realistic approach on graphics. There are a variety of environments to explore and their color scheme constantly changes which help keeps the game’s atmosphere constantly refreshing. The player can alter the main menu’s color scheme, as I mentioned earlier and as for Gardens, every time you collect a Spectra, the whole level’s color design completely changes and looks like an entirely new level through the change of colors alone. PixelJunk Eden, in general, is just absolutely breathtaking to just view.

What I Disliked:

  • Unresponsive Motion Controls: If you have seen the YouTube video I’ve posted up above, you may have noticed that there were times when I fell down faster than usual; PixelJunk Eden supports the SixAxis’s motion controls by letting the player swoop down the controller in a downward motion to make your grimp fall faster. It comes in handy for me when I accidentally miss a specific spot and fall down for quite awhile and have to make my way up again to that spot. The problem with this comes in the fact that sometimes, when you feel you’ve done the motion, the game fails to register it and and as a result, the player must do the motion again at a faster, more forceful way. It’s a minor aspect I dislike out of this fabulous game, but I wish that the game was more responsive to the motion control portion.
  • Rewinding Silk is a One Way Only Street: With the option to only rewind silk, I feel that there should have been an option to also unwind more silk. Perhaps attach the L2 button to unwind and R2 to rewind instead of having both shoulder buttons attached to only rewinding silk. It would’ve really added more to the already great swinging mechanics.
  • The Camera is Confused in Multiplayer: In local multiplayer, the camera unfortunately works against you. It randomly focuses on a specific grimp at any time, which can cause some frustrating situations, such as the camera focusing on a falling grimp while your other friends are left off-screen and respawn by the falling grimp all the way at the bottom only to have all of you navigate upwards once again.

Undecided:

  • Nothing in this game had me questioning anything about any aspect of it.

Conclusion

PixelJunk Eden is just simply an amazing game. It truly is a unique interpretation of the platforming genre with some puzzle elements. What it aims to do is provide a remarkable, invigorating experience in a sweet little package of only $10 and it achieves exactly that. To those who are still on the fence about purchasing it, there is a demo on the PlayStation Store for you to try. If you are even remotely interested in what it has to offer, I heavily recommend you to purchase the game.

 

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score


Artistically enthralling, with hypnotizing music.

The camera can become a problem in multiplayer.

The ability to record your play sessions and upload onto Youtube is a phenomenal feature.

9 out of 10