Diving into PixelJunk Eden

By Jeriaska . July 17, 2008 . 12:11pm

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Q-Games' third title in the PixelJunk series was on hand at the Sony press booth at E3, where senior producer Deborah Mars gave an introduction to the game’s unique play mechanics and explained the title's collaboration between Dylan Cuthbert, president of Q-Games, and Baiyon, the Kyoto-based visual artist and DJ.  The latter designer is responsible both for the title's imagery and its electronic soundtrack.

 

In Eden, the player takes on the role of a tiny “Grimp,” (in the above screenshot you can find three of them atop the PixelJunk logo). The name is a portmanteau word for the game’s two core mechanics of jumping and gripping.   Your Grimp can grip, jump, and swing from plant to plant on a silk tether in the phosphorescent landscape of Eden’s garden.  There is something in the region of twenty hours of unique gameplay to be explored–anywhere from single-player to three-player cooperative play is supported on the title, and high score rankings will be posted online.

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What is the player aiming for in jumping from place to place?  Well, there are these empty pods here and there within each level.  You are looking for floating orbs called pollen prowlers (called that because they slowly drift in your direction) to snag, releasing a stream of tiny pollen that lets new plants sprout from those pods.  When the Grimp has collected enough pollen, it can swing its way over to a pod and a new stalk will sprout up out of it.  Swinging up higher and higher on the plants lets your Grimp search new areas of the garden.  

 

The goal of exploring each garden is to reach its hidden treasures, the elaborately ornamented objects called spectra.  Collect the requisite number of spectra and you can move on to the next garden.  The player’s way of locating each new spectra is performed through the Grimp’s own senses, rather than by way of external helps like maps or icons.  Swinging from plant to plant, a radar-esque pulse of light will emanate in the direction of the next spectra, indicating which way you should head for.  The pulse is subtle, so players will need to be in tune with the understated visual cues in order to progress.  

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You can reel in your Grimp’s tether using the shoulder buttons.  A double-click releases the Grimp to glide toward its next destination.  If you hold the button down, the Grimp spins while coursing through the air and gathers the floating pollen faster into the next available pod.  To fall down quickly, the player can simply thrust down the Sixaxis controller.  While there are no penalties for falling to the base of the garden from the towering stocks, unless your character keeps collecting floating bulbs called tuning crystals, it will run out of time before completing the level and “tune out” of the garden.  When a new spectra is obtained, the color palette changes and the music subtly transitions to a different theme.  

 

Recently Sony released “Dive Into PixelJunk Monsters” on the Playstation Network, which is the title for the soundtrack to the previous Q-Games entry composed by the Kyoto music team Otograph.  It marked the first videogame album release in history for the online store.  The response to the music for its successor has been similarly positive, and the developers are currently pursuing a stand-alone audio release for the hundred-plus minutes of music created by Baiyon.  While spending a few minutes on the innovative puzzle game only scratches the surface of what Eden has to offer, a July 31 release date means that soon the title will be available for download.

 

Images courtesy of Q-Games


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