PixelJunk Eden
by Gauss


Basic Information:
Developer: Q-Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
North American Release Date: July 31, 2008
European Release Date: July 31, 2008
Trophies: Yes


Overview
PixelJunk Eden is one of those games which is difficult to classify and is a member of a myriad of titles on the PSN which are slowly furthering the argument of Games as a true artform. PixelJunk Eden is the third title in the PixelJunk series and is by far the most experimental title released in the series to date. Just like every game though it features engaging visuals and phenomenal audio.


Gameplay
PixelJunk Eden is a diffcult game to get around as it is such a strange title, at its heart though it is a platformer where you play as a seed-looking charcter called a Grimp. You must platform through a digital garden by jumping, attaching to plants, spinning and launching yourself up to obtain Spectra in an effort to expand the garden to its fullest. Along the way the visuals evolve as the gardens grow to let you know at what point you are at in the game.

Unlike traditional platformers though, your primary enemy is the clock or meter at the bottom of the screen which slowly ticks down as you progress through the level. You can obtain crystals scattered throughout the level and dropped by various objects and enemies to increase this meter, but ultimately it is the deciding factor in failure and success as you progress through a level.

In another break from traditional the level isn't entirely constructed upon entry, rather as you spin and launch from plant to plant you can obtain seeds which seek out the nearest un bloomed plant. Once an un bloomed plant has been saturated with seeds, you can touch it to force it to bloom instantly. This provides the next platform for you to reach a Spectra or a new plant.

All in all this is a very intriguing game from a gameplay standpoint, and to be completely honest this is actually the selling point for the game coupled with the single player experience. It is addictive yet easy to pick up. Its brutally simple yet refreshingly original. Its very strange, but at the same time breathtakingly beautiful how well this whole game was crafted. At no point in this game does anything feel rushed, incomplete, or not thought through. The experience, much like fl0w, in and of itself reminds you of how great games can really be, of how in their own small way they can interpret imagination in very simple and elegant ways.


Needless to say, the gameplay of this game is brilliant.

Singleplayer

The singleplayer campaign of this game is really the entirety of the game, there is no dedicated multiplayer. Essentially you enter the scene at a central hub or 'map screen' and are allowed to select your garden from there. At first you start with a single, bare garden and your responsibility is to collect 5 spectra in each garden. At first you only have to collect one spectra in a garden then you beat it, upon each subsequent visit to complete that garden you must collect an additional spectra to beat it... So the second time you enter you need 2 spectra, third time you need 3, etc, until you collect all 5 in one pass to complete the garden and each time you collect a spectra the level evolves.

As you progress through each garden, at a certain point the next garden opens up to you and the 'map screen' you start off at expands to reflect this. Over the course of the game your goal is to complete each garden and fully expand the 'map screen' into its complete form. Its a nice change of pace, and similar to titles like Mario 64 the setup encourages you to replay each level multiple times and fully explore it to obtain every Spectra it offers. That coupled with the time limit is what makes this game challenging, particularly in the later gardens obtaining all 5 Spectra in one pass is no small feat.

Its a welcome challenge though, and at the end of the day the singleplayer, although simple, is the best kind of time consuming. My only real complaint is that the levels can get a little too big sometimes, and it would have been nice to have more variety in the platform style in each garden. Still though these are minute complaints paired against the whole of the game.

Multiplayer

While I would not consider Eden to be a Multiplayer title, it does have Co-op. Due to the structure of the game, its kind of hard to imagine how the MP of this title should play out. That being said, the Co-op adds some new dimension to the game as having a partner gives you some capabilities you did not have before in your little Grimp as you will stick to your buddies allowing this catch-and-throw system which makes certain areas of the game much easier. Its a fun addition, but is not really a selling point for the game in the least.


Technical

This game uses art and music from a Japanese artist named Baiyon. This coupled with the talent of Q-Games results in something that is truly genius. While the entire landscape of the game changes and evolves overtime its still very concise and controlled, its unmistakeably unique in its personality. As you go from level to level and develop the garden at no point will you question any aspect of this world despite the fact it is completely detached from reality. In this regard it is truly the mark of a well developed game.

Presentation wise the graphics are what you'd expect from a PixelJunk title, they are crisp, clean, engaging and unquestionably immersive. The audio is a mark of brilliance, highlighting the whole aspect of the title. In this case the audio is downplayed in a good way to enhance the visuals, sound effects are minimalist in nature and the soundtrack is a very light-hearted techno. Much as I said earlier in the overview, this game truly is a work of art, and the technical aspects of this game bare this out.

Trophies
If you pick up Eden, it will not be for easy trophies. Unlike the other PixelJunk titles, Eden's trophies are not easy and while there are alot of them, they are all bronze and silvers. To prospective trophy hunters, I'd recommend this game to those looking for a challenge.

Gameplay: 9/10
- A unique twist on a classic style of game, Eden re-imagines what a platformer can be in the best way.

Singleplayer: 8/10
- The singleplayer is the only meat the game has to offer. There is alot of content here and all of it is well worth playing.

Multiplayer: 7/10
- Although most would consider this a bad score, MP is really not the focus of this game. Local Co-op was an addition to add some gameplay elements, and in this regard it is fun and works well.

Technical: 9.5/10
- From a technical standpoint this game is everything you can possibly ask from it. Its immersive, beautiful, and unquestionably unique.

Overall: 8.75/10 Superb
- Eden is the 2nd best PixelJunk entry, and that is not meant as an insult. It is still, in my opinion, a must own title just for the sheer beauty of it. Much like fl0w, its a different type of game which challenges imagination by presenting a unique interpretation on classic gameplay in a package that is engaging and immersive. It truly is an aspect of gaming that needs to be appreciated and comes with high recommendation from me.