Wednesday, December 23, 2009

PixelJunk Shooter

Yesterday, PixelJunk Shooter came out.  And since I've bought every PixelJunk Game since Racers, I bought this one as well.  (Note to self: Beat PixelJunk Eden, and Monsters: Encore)  I had been eagerly anticipating this next release from Dylan Cuthbert's Q-games (not to be confused with Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q Entertainment) for quite some time.  In it, you control a little spaceship who's task is to rescue miners from the caves beneath a planet's surface.  They had been searching for resources and had become trapped by rock, lava, water, and various other hazards.

The game plays more like a puzzle game than a Geometry Wars-like shooter, with enemies being infrequent and more of an obstacle, as opposed to being a threat to your health.  One analogue stick makes you move, the other points your ship.  The L Buttons use the grappling hook, which picks up miners, gems, and other objects.  The R Buttons fire shots, and if held will shoot missiles.

The principle method of survival is not overheating.  Being close to Lava and being hit will heat up your ship.  Touching the lava will generally result in death.  Heat will naturally dissipate w/ time, but dunking the ship in water will rapidly cool you.  There is soft rock, which can be destroyed and hard rock than cannot be.  Much of the gameplay revolves around destroying the soft rock so that water or lava will flow somewhere else.  When lava and water meet, soft rock is formed.  So a typical level will likely involve making water or lava flow together, then destroying the resulting soft rock to progress.

Other fluids are introduced as the game progresses, including an explosive gas and a magnetic liquid.  There are also special 'suits' that change your ships abilities.  One suit makes you able to survive in lava but not in water.

The goal of the game is to rescue the lost miners/researchers that have become trapped in the levels.  You have to pick them up with your grappling arm before the levels hazards, or you, kill them.

The visual style of the game is great.  All of the fluids look and move wonderfully.  The music is strange but very good.  It's low-key, but it kinda fosters the spelunking feel of the game. Overall, very good to look at and listen to.

Overall, PixelJunk Shooter is a great game, that just doesn't last long enough.  Perhaps it's short because making it longer would require reusing level ideas.