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Friday | December 9, 2016
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Pixeljunk Eden (PS3)

Pixeljunk Eden (PS3)

Q games are currently making some of the most addictive games on the Playstation 3 store with their Monsters game having led to many a late night gaming session. Eden is the third game in their release list and somewhat mirrors the subdued gameplay mechanic of thatgamecompany’s flOw.

You start the game as a Grimp (grip & jump) in your own Eden environment. This Eden is home to around ten "gardens" which are the in game levels. As you progress and complete the gardens the Eden expands and you can then access newer gardens or hidden secrets.

Your main task inside a garden is to hunt down Spectra, glowing entities which will cause Eden to grow. Many of these gardens start out empty, so you need to fill empty seedlings with pollen which burst out of Prowlers when you touch them. When each of these seedlings is full you hit it to burst the seed apart and grow a new section of the environment you are in. This gets you closer to new seedlings so you keep expanding, until you reach the Spectra.

The entire game basically revolves around this collection, expansion and exploration metholodogy. Like flOw, the mechanics are the core foundation of making the game feel unique. When you are standing or hanging in mid air, you use the left analog stick to aim the next jump. You judge the angle but don’t have control over the power. After you are moving you can slightly influence your movement in the air however you can’t directly control it. Your character will automatically grab anything he touches which therefore means that you are really being limited by the distance you can jump. As well as jumping you can attach yourself to any soft object by tapping the X button, then you can use the left stick to rotate in a circular motion. In doing so you can collect the nearby Prowlers and gather pollen without leaving this position.

The control method works well and it makes sure that the players focus is more on the gameplay rather than trying to master a plethora of complex moves. That said, it will take some time before you are in full control of the Grimp, especially when it comes to timing the angle and position for those longer jumps across the vegetation. Generally though it is an exercise in freeform style control and it totally fits the context of the game.

It is fascinating that you can’t actually die in the game as you don’t have a health meter however each garden is measured with a time gauge which you have to refill by collecting gems in each level. Enemies can’t kill you but they can knock you down from your perch and away from areas of interest, which can be just as annoying.

While this all sounds like a modern-day version of a 60’s hippy style game there are some enemies you have to fight. Well when I say fight, all are beaten by timed jumps and attacks with your body movement. Rest assured you won’t be whipping out an RPG to take care of things that get in your way. There aren’t a huge number of foes all in all, but they do a decent job of spicing things up from time to time.

So how does the game flow? Well the level design at the start is quite good although after the third level you begin to wonder if your search for Spectra will land you in different styles of environment. Thankfully this happens later in the game and some of the design really has to be applauded for the unique creativity. Portals appear, you have varying gravity to deal with as well as some tricky goals, like figuring out how to get past solid rock to progress on the hunt for Spectra.

While the game is moderately addictive early on, by the fourth environment I was hooked, line and sinker into the whole experience. If you consider that I am reviewing almost every major AAA game for Gamingheaven this is some achievement. I would be surprised if anyone didn’t find this game strangely attractive, even if these free-flowing games are not normally your thing.

The game is not perfect however and there are always some negative issues to mention. The open ended nature of the game is undoubtedly one of the strong points but it also can cause some problems. The garden portals are sometimes hard to find and there is much wandering to locate the one you want. There are no clues as to which levels you have already collected Spectra in, so you will often end up back in the same place trying to remember where you should be !

Collecting the Spectra is not without faults either, because while each of the ten levels has five Spectra within it the first time you enter a garden you need to collect one Spectra to clear it. As soon as you get one, you are kicked out. The next time you enter you have to collect two and after getting them you are again kicked out. This goes on until you manage to get all five and it ends up being somewhat repetitive. I don’t think it ruins the game in the grand scheme of things, but I am not the biggest believer in repeating and backtracking in games so I would have preferred gathering all five in the first go.

The game supports multiplayer, with up to three people on a single Playstation 3. Additionally the implemention of this is first class, if someone has to leave midway through a level they just log out and the others can continue. Eden also support video recording via the Start button (which you can pause with R3), and once you have made videos you can save to the system and upload to Youtube. A really cool feature which adds to the whole community feel.

Pixeljunk Eden is a brilliantly unique title which will appeal to many gamers but perhaps not everyone. The freeflowing nature of the game is refreshing, but at times can prove to be rather confusing. This is a game that rewards dedication and the further you progress the more additive it becomes. My only concern is that, initially it might prove to have a rather steep learning curve alienating potential players.

Gameplay

88/100

Simple in execution but insanely addictive if you spend time with it. Might be offputting for new gamers however.

Graphics
78/100

Hardly groundbreaking but they are very artistic in design, like all PixelJunk games.

Sound
78/100

Very little to mention, but it works a treat in regards to ambience.

Value
80/100
For a downloadable store game there is a lot of gameplay especially when you consider the multiplayer support.
Overall
(not an average)
86/100

Well worth looking at, and along with Pixeljunk’s Monsters is one of the best games on the Playstation 3 store.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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