doctor_kaz's PixelJunk Eden (PC) review

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Whoever thought that adding a timer to this game was a good idea should be shot

The review deck above pretty much sums up my feelings about this game. It is a potentially excellent game, almost totally ruined by what is possibly the most incredibly stupid design decision in the history of video gaming -- making the levels timed. What is otherwise a relaxing, exploration-based experience is completely ruined by the fact that you only have a few minutes to finish every level. There are items on each level that you can find to increase your timer, but if you get stuck or hit a dead end then, chances are, you'll be starting all over again. The levels have a huge amount of verticality to them, and some of them take a very long time to reach high up where you need to be. The result is that you can sometimes lose 15, 20, or maybe even more than 30 minutes of progress getting high up and then not knowing where to go next as you helplessly watch your timer tick down to zero. This is an especially big problem in the later levels, which also have some puzzle aspects to them and are hard to navigate. These levels are supremely irritating.

I cannot possibly overstress how mind-bogglingly stupid it was to include a timer in this game and how much it ruins the experience. It is a game that gives you relatively simple mechanics and tells you "go explore these areas". There is some great techno music that gives the game a laid-back vibe, but it all goes to waste.

The game also does some other dumb things, like start restricting your use of the fun mechanics later in the game. This is how it makes it more difficult. It should make it more interesting, but, instead, it just makes it frustrating. For example, one of the coolest parts of this game is swinging from branches and collecting pollen. Late in the game though, half of the objects are things that you can't swing on, and there are tons of enemies that cut your silk. The result is that collecting pollen becomes a tedious affair. Add in the time limit and you have a game that is only worth playing about halfway though, at which point you should probably put it aside. I'll give it credit for at least providing enough enjoyment in that time to make it worth what it costs, but I can't help but lament the potential that was left on the table. Pixeljunk Eden could have been as good as Pixeljunk Shooter. Instead, it is yet another experience that will leave you wondering what could have been.

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