Pixeljunk Eden is joy

This review is going to fail.

I’m a big fan of words and writ­ing, but some­times they just fail, and describ­ing what sim­ple joy actu­al­ly feels like is one of those times. Rather than try to describe the mechan­ics of the game or what it’s about, I’ll work on why I like it.

Some days, I want to play a game that’s going to be fun with the assur­ance that there is no chance that I’ll get wound up while play­ing it. For exam­ple, if I come home after a four­teen hour day to find that my daugh­ter’s already asleep for the night and my wife is exhaust­ed, and I know that I have maybe one hour before I should get to bed and rest for the fol­low­ing long day at work. Well, Pix­eljunk Eden is per­fect for me at those times.

If you get wound up play­ing Pix­eljunk Eden, there’s some­thing real­ly wrong with you. The worst thing that can hap­pen over the course of the game is that you run out of time on a lev­el and have to start over. There’s no vio­lence, no health bar, no sen­tient ene­mies at all. Your tiny avatar jumps and swings between plants, col­lects pollen, and makes new plants grow, which you climb upon and repeat that process. By com­plet­ing lev­els, you add plants to your home gar­den, one by one. Your expand­ing home gar­den opens up new lev­els.

I know it sounds uncon­ven­tion­al if not out­right stu­pid. But then, so does Tetris and Peg­gle and Kata­mari Dama­cy and Super Mario and every clas­sic video game, the kind that you won’t ever for­get after play­ing it just once. This game is just fun. I’ll take “sounds stu­pid and plays new and fun” over “sounds badass but plays exact­ly like every oth­er game ever released”. (“Wait, wait, we’re dif­fer­ent! In our first per­son shoot­er, the guns are yel­low!”)

The art design and col­or palettes could hon­est­ly be from a muse­um gallery. The col­ors shift mul­ti­ple times a lev­el, just fre­quent­ly enough that you don’t stop notic­ing them. My infant daugh­ter’s a big fan of this game. It’s pur­ty.

The music is fan­tas­tic too. It sticks with me when I’m not play­ing it. I enjoy elec­tron­ic music, and this com­poser’s work is per­fect­ly tuned to the game. It’s sooth­ing and catchy.

The over­all pack­age looks and sounds like art that just so hap­pens to be very fun to play.

I just went to get a link on Youtube to find a game lev­el to link. (Inte­grat­ed Youtube upload is nice, but not nec­es­sary for me) I found this one at ran­dom. I haven’t got­ten to this point in the game yet. Also, this per­son is much bet­ter at play­ing than I am.

I’ve read that the game is a glo­ri­fied flash game. True enough! There’s noth­ing that requires the pro­cess­ing engine of a PS3 here. But like Every­day Shoot­er and Pix­eljunk Mon­sters, there’s a lot to be said for tak­ing some­thing sim­ple and then pol­ish­ing it to per­fec­tion. This game isn’t mod­ern, it’s time­less.

There’s a free demo; if you own a PS3, give it a shot.

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