Indie Developers, PixelJunk, have had their fair share of successful releases on the PlayStation Store. Although you can count their entire library of titles on one hand, each one has been a gem in their own right. This time around it is title number 1-4, which goes under the grand name of PixelJunk Shooter.
Fans of the classic Thrust type of game will be right at home here, however just like London busses, we’ve been delivered two Thrust-like titles in the space of two weeks with the release of Gravity Crash just a week earlier. With that said, although each title behave in a similar fashion, both follow different paths, and it is with PixelJunk Shooter that I find the most refreshing of the two.
The story is simple, yet a bit irrelevant for a game of this type, but I digress… After exhausting Earth’s natural resources, the human race has travelled the galaxy in search of new minerals. However whilst doing so has unearthed lots of nasty inhabitants that do not like you being on their world, and it is up to you (and a friend) to rescue these workers who are trapped in the depths of the planet.
Your rescue vehicle of choice is a little subterranean spacecraft, which has been tricked out with a handy grappling claw (released with the left triggers), which is used mostly to collect the survivors, a projectile cannon (right triggers) and that is it – simple. The rest of the controls are done with the two analogue sticks; left stick to thrust and right stick to change your pointing direction. In true PixelJunk fashion, simplicity is key and gameplay is paramount, and it is these two factors that make PixelJunk titles so compelling to play. PixelJunk Shooter is no different here.
The game spans three episodes, with each episode consisting of around five or so settings. Each episode has you rescuing survivors in different sub terrain locations; be it in the rocky surface of Episode One, the icy caverns of Episode Two or the industrial mining plants in the third Episode. Each terrain brings its own unique gameplay and mechanics, however there will always be some form of liquid that you’ll have to deal with. This will be mostly either hot magma or water, but in later levels Ice walls, explosive gas and an oil-like substance have to be tackled. These elements make PixelJunk Shooter shine above its competition, especially when you are challenged to manipulate these elements within the level to aid your progression.
It isn’t just these natural elements that you need to be careful of either, as there are also the nasty inhabitants that I mentioned earlier too. These range from bat like creatures to homing spinning enemies, all doing their very best to stop you from saving the trapped survivors. Enemies vary throughout the game, but most of your time will be spent dodging their fire, shooting their missiles or killing them before they touch or explode near you.
Visually PixelJunk Shooter carries through the similar vector art style found in its previous titles, probably more so than ever this time around. It feels like you are playing through levels made from cut out paper, yet this is blown away with the realistic (yet cartoony) visuals of the liquid effects of the oozing magma, water and other fluid-like encounters. Everything from the levels to your ship and enemies are constructed with only a few simple colours and shapes – and it just suits the game very well.
Sound is a little disappointing for me, after coming from PixelJunk Eden, which had its own very addictive toe-tapping tunes. In PixelJunk Shooter a similar musical score is there, but repetition soon kicks in, and I found myself turning down the music in the end or began to play my own (which is also available in-game).
Overall PixelJunk Shooter is yet another stellar title for the team. They have taken what is a classic concept and gone against the grain to produce something clean and fresh for us gamers to enjoy. Sadly that enjoyment is a little short, as you can whisk through the levels fairly quickly in a few hours. With leaderboards and two-player to lengthen the lifespan of the game a little bit more, PixelJunk Shooter is well worth your space credits, even if it’s to simply enjoy another well executed Indie game.