May 18, 2012In theory, I really like this game. It gives you beautiful 2D playgrounds remotely resembling gardens with a very stylized look and hypnotic, if repetitive, electronic music where your task is to collect pollen. They float around in bigger pollen balls which, if you or your thread on which you swing through the levels touch them, burst open and release said pollen, slowly descending to the ground. You then will have to touch those yourself or with your thread to make them fly to waiting blossoms which will, when filled with enough pollen, start to bloom and add more surfaces to hold on to to the level, allowing you to jump and swing higher in order to reach more blossoms to fill. The ultimate goal are the "spectra" more or less hidden in the levels, those you want to collect because, well, that's the goal and they make blossoms in the "main menu" - navigated just like playing the levels - bloom that allow you to reach new levels.
So far, so simple? Well, not exactly, because there are a few things to it that make the game quite challenging. Most obvious would be the time limit you have to reach a spectra. You can refill it by collecting certain "bubbles" or "cells" placed throughout the levels and can make some appear by collecting a lot of pollen in a short time, but it always remains a threat which is, on its own, a good thing.
Another hurdle are the controls, because, while not bad by any means, require an extreme precision from the player, especially since one bad move or a jump timed a bit too early or late can result in falling back to the ground or at least a very large part of the level, wasting a lot of precious time.
That still isn't too bad, honestly, and would, at least for me, mean the perfect balance between relaxing and challenging, but there's one more aspect that pretty much ruins this game for me.
What were they thinking? These go far beyond adding challenge, they're an outright annoyance. First of all, what happens when you meet enemies? They don't kill you or anything, but when they touch your thread, they cut it and you fall helplessly. When they touch you, you lose your thread AND for a short time the ability to stick to surfaces, also resulting in a helpless cropper. It is worth noticing at this point, that you cannot shoot another thread while in midair, you must wait until you stick to another surface.
And this only when they float around, they can, in addition directly approach and attack you. It is only for a very, very short moment after an actual attack that they're vulnerable and can be defeated, but even that's harder to pull off than it sounds - to make things worse, they respawn very soon, so you pretty much just wasted your precious time. Some of them also have long distance attacks and the worst thing is they actively follow you around the level and are not slow.
In short: they're a complete pain in the behind. I have no idea how they could think them to be a good idea. I mean, even if not that tough, they would, at least for me, be bothersome and distracting from the actually fun gameplay, but the way they are, they just suck. (Defenders might say I just suck at the game, granted, but I really think that aspect fits to the game in general. I have nothing against challenging, but I don't like being harassed and annoyed.)
Another aspect I consider a little weak is the way they force you to replay parts of the levels. Each level contains several spectra, but you're not allowed to collect them all right away. No, first time you play, you can collect one spectra, then the level ends and you must restart it to gather two spectra this time before the level ends, then restart, get three spectra and so on until you got all of them. That's a very cheap way of stretching the game's length.
Since the levels also play all pretty much the same and just get harder, there's a lot of repetition anyways, though you won't mind it if you like the gameplay. Overall, I cannot give this game anything more than 6/10, so a bit better than your average game. Could've been a decent 9 or even 10, if not for the enemies.… Expand
Jan 16, 2012This is a great game. Some slam it for the difficulty curve, but I found it's pretty good. The problem there is that you're doing most of your work at very high altitudes, so if you flub some acrobatics, you may fall all the way to the ground and waste all your remaining time trying to climb back - it's stressful. Still, if you ration your time crystals and just pick up what you need, and just pursue the objectives, it's a game that really rewards mastery of the mechanics and adds interesting challenges as you progress.
Additionally, the visuals are typical Pixeljunk - that is, they look unique, vibrantly colorful, animated and lively, and the music by fits perfectly - both products of multimedia artist "Baiyon." On the Q-Games side, things feel right: Everything seems to have its own weight and momentum. Some things are soft, some hard, others springy, with a bit of give. Swinging, you do sweep an arc, but it feels like your string has tension, and you need the right inertia to keep swinging. It makes a nice, varied world that may be challenging, but is consistent and feels fair. Oddly, you don't walk - you always jump. This isn't a big handicap, but adds a bit of challenge too - like how you can't "jump" in Bionic Commando.
An expertly crafted game by the PixelJunk team. I strongly recommend it for people who like platformers, but want something really different.… Expand
Yet another quirky PSN title that just screams replayability. It's challenging, but ultimately may prove too frustrating for the casual gamer which it appears to be aimed at. Nevertheless, good value for money and definitely one for the platform/side-scroller freaks out there.