Pixeljunk Eden is just as beautiful, weird, and wonderful now as it was in 2008
Q-Games has been on a weird tangent lately. In the beginning, they made and released their Pixeljunk brand of games only on the Playstation Network for the PS3 and PSP. They enjoyed a decent amount of success that way, developing a reputation as a developer of niche, daring and interesting games. Since then they’ve branched out, announcing a version of Pixeljunk Monsters for Facebook of all places, and have followed that up by porting what some consider to be their best game, Pixeljunk Eden, to the PC.
Eden is one of those games where I can explain it to you but you’ll have next to no concept of what it actually is without seeing it for yourself. Your job is to explore gardens, defeat the pollen prowlers (bad guys) to release pollen, collect the pollen to charge the plant seeds to sprout plants, which you can then use to swing off the leaves. All of this leads you towards finding “Spectra,” which are dotted around the various gardens and are your ultimate goal.
It probably sounds like a goofy farming simulator or a casual kids game from the description you read above. Imagine what the game I just described looks like. Now look at the screen below.
Now you have an idea, but you really need to see and hear it to get the full picture. As you can see, while what I described above is certainly what Pixeljunk Eden is, that’s not really what it’s about at all. Eden is one of those “games as art” deals, made as a collaboration between Q-Games and independent musician Baiyon. The two elements of the game (gameplay and music) service and complement each other beautifully, making Eden one of those rare titles that you not only play, but experience.
I know, this probably sounds like a bunch of nonsense. Like some guy that tells you to close your eyes and “feel” a movie. But once you play Eden and get what it’s doing, it’s hard not to really appreciate it. It’s made easier by fantastic music and engaging gameplay, so even if you don’t buy into the whole “art” argument, you can still get by on the really fun game.
The gardens, as they call them, are really just abstractions of space that you move around in, jumping from shape to shape that by and large resemble plants. They swing around in the breeze, and you’ll use that momentum to time your jumps to get from safe spot to safe spot.
You only really have two moves in the game; one is a pure jump, and the other a jump with a line of silk trailing behind you. It attaches to wherever you jumped from and enables you to swing around to gain speed or defeat enemies who get caught in your death spiral. The defeated enemies will sprout pollen, which when you collect it help charge up additional seeds that you can then jump onto to sprout new plants.
While the game does get rather hard in the upper stages, most of the game offered a nice even challenge curve that lends itself to a more casual play style. You can jump in, play a garden to grab a new spectra, and get out. It’s almost perfect that way.
The game controlled well in its original 2008 release on the PlayStation 3, utilizing the dual analog sticks to control jumping and swinging, but I have to say I really prefer having the mouse control. Left clicking jumps with silk and right button jumps. It’s super simple and takes mere moments to get down pat.
The only downside to Eden, if you can even really call it that, is that it might be a bit too weird and abstract to appeal to a huge range of people. It’s strange, unique and unlike most other games out there. I love it for that reason, but I could understand someone else being turned off for the same reasons it draws me in. To each their own, I suppose, but I think it’s a brilliant game.
If you haven’t played Eden yet and wonder if you should on PC, or wonder if this is worth your time, the answer in both cases is a resounding yes. The Steam version even has an option to buy the soundtrack as well (which I very much suggest). Much like the PlayStation version, Pixeljunk Eden is a game that’s tough to find fault with. It remains one of my favorite games in recent memory.