Pixeljunk: Eden

If you’re anything like me, you’ll know the feeling I’m about to describe quite well. I’m at work, talking to my friend Dave about whatever games we happen to be playing at the time. NPCs (Non-Playstationing Colleagues) walk past, and their ears prick up when they overhear choice snippets like “Did you get the big sword yet?” or “I had a nightmare blowing up that tank yesterday”. Frankly, they don’t get it – the whole thing is alien to them. They think you are mental.

Pixeljunk Eden, on the other hand, makes you sound even more insane. Even fellow gamers who haven’t played it will be tempted to call the men in white coats when they hear such conversational gems as:

“I got into the seventh garden last night.”

“How many seeds did you open?”

“That last spectra was a bugger.”

In a nutshell, Pixeljunk Eden is a wonderfully simple game wrapped up in some bizarre and mostly unnecessary terminology. It’s basically a 2D platformer, and like most platformers the aim of the game is to collect things up, in this case “Spectra”. Each level is called a garden, and contains up to 5 Spectra, depending on how many times you have played it through. Your character is called a Grimp. Yes, that’s right, a grimp, don’t ask me because I don’t know either. He’s a tiny little creature who has the ability to jump or swing through the levels, using a piece of silk that you can extend out in a very similar way to the ninja rope from the old Worms games.

Of course, most of the levels are very tall and in order to reach the top, you need more help than just a jump and a swing. This is where seeds and pollen crawlers come in – by smashing the pollen crawlers that float around the gardens, you reveal pollen, which you can collect. The pollen then flies off to the nearest seed, and when it is full of pollen, your Grimp can leap onto the seed and cause a new plant to grow, effectively providing a whole new climbing frame to continue your journey towards the next Spectra.

Why do you want the Spectra? Well, your Grimp is very green-fingered, and wants to collect the Spectra to take back to his home garden, which is effectively the main menu. By a wonderful stroke of horticultural coincidence, each Spectra you return to your garden with makes another plant grow, which always leads rather neatly to the next available garden entrance.

It’s not as relaxing as all that though, as there are also several different types of baddies that love nothing more than to knock you clean off the top of the garden, just as you make a final leap of faith towards a Spectra. You also have an “oscillator” which needs to be kept “tuned” by collecting crystals, which in real terms is a time bar that expires if you take too long to collect either crystals or Spectra from around the gardens.

Do you see what I was saying at the start of the review? Just trying to explain this game is making my head hurt.

The game also features up to three player co-operative play on the same screen. That wouldn’t work well for most games, but because each of your characters are so tiny, it does. Two player grimpery (?) is terrific fun, although I have to confess to not having tried three player yet, due to a lack of controllers. This game is also one of the first PS3 games to make use of the new Trophy system, and as pointless as they are you can’t help but smile when one pops up on the screen.

So I’ve told you the main gist of the game, but what I haven’t told you is this: it’s brilliant. Utterly transfixing. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes downright annoying, but always brilliant.

The simple 2D graphics work incredibly well and actually look superb, for example getting a combo of ten pollen prowlers almost drowns the screen in thousands of individual particles of pollen gently drifting down through the garden. The music is by a guy called Baiyon, who, like Cher, only has one name. Unlike Cher, his music is bassy and electronic, and quite superb. It’s just one of the things I love about the game, the music really adds to the atmosphere. The third star of the show on top of the music and graphics is the physics engine, which works brilliantly when you’re swinging from a plant which is blowing around in the breeze.

So how much would you pay for a game like this? £40? £20? £10? Nope, this game is available on the PSN (Playstation Network) for the miserly sum of £5. To quote Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels: “It’s a deal, it’s a steal – it’s the sale of the f*cking century.”

If you’re the kind of person who needs to use a spanner to get a fifty pence coin out of your hand, relax, as there is a short demo of the game available to download for free.

I may have struggled to describe this game, but it was no struggle for me coming up with a verdict for it: Buy it, you won’t be disappointed.







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