The Brainy Gamer: Garden of delights

Michael Abbott reports:

''PixelJunk Eden is a masterful collection of opposites: easy and difficult; simple and intricate; stark and sumptuous; soothing and infuriating; innocent and devious. It strikes that perfect Mario-mantra balance of easy to play and difficult to master.

Persistence is rewarded, but luck helps too. Strategy improves your odds, but sometimes having no plan is the best plan. Patience can pay off, but sometimes aggressiveness works best. In the later levels, you will need a savvy combo of all these to survive, but just like the best Mario games, PixelJunk Eden seems to know just when you need a mushroom, er, crystal. Rely on this too much, however, and, just like Mario, the game will stop holding your hand and insist you progress on your own.

At the Game Developers Conference in February, Cuthbert spoke about his desire to establish a consistent design aesthetic for the PixelJunk series based on "simplicity, familiarity, and originality." It's easy to see how these three elements define Eden, but they don't quite tell the whole story. With each PixelJunk title (Racers, Monsters, and Eden) Q Games is clearly growing in its understanding of how to build a unified gaming experience around "simple, familiar, and original." Racers had a distinctive look, but problematical gameplay; Monsters had the look and gameplay down, but the game was mostly a dressed up version of Desktop Tower Defense.''

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