You and your dedicated team of drones must build and protect a factory so you can make and ship your soup in relative safety. Don’t do it alone if you don’t have to. This is PixelJunk Inc.
Q-Games has a pretty impressive history. They’ve been around a long time, and on top of doing work on the PS3’s XrossMediaBar and music visualization graphics software, they’ve been responsible for the various PixelJunk offerings for PSN and Steam. PixelJunk Inc. is by far their most ambitious title to date, however, and it’s only being worked on by a team of four people.
I had a chance to sit down and talk with one of them, Rowan Parker, while I played it at PAX. It’s delightful. The game plays something like a Metroidvania-type game, but mixed with base and resource management, as well as elements of tower defense. The environments are persistent and totally destructible, so as you build your base, it will become a visual representation of how you’ve adapted to your surroundings.
“It’s all about you and the way you want to handle your soup making.”
There are tech trees that enable you to improve both the capabilities of your base and your character, and a good base is the product of striking a balance between offensive, defensive and efficiency-based skills. Also, everything runs on power, which enemies are attracted to, so you can either keep a small profile or beef up your protection and go bigger.
The more efficient you get, the more automated your base becomes. You can even build little robots, open their heads and program them to do your bidding. One was programmed to hug me whenever he saw me. It’s all about you and the way you want to handle your soup making.
PixelJunk Inc. also has a wonderful art style. It’s sort of a weird HD lo-fi sci-fi situation, and in fact, as I passed by their booth repeatedly throughout PAX, they had wacky old movies like Zardoz and The Last Starfighter playing to set the mood. The game has a very atypical color scheme for a sci-fi game, too. Everything is bold and bright, and sort of sickening in a cool, alien way. The environments are very well fleshed out and feel like real ecosystems. You push against it, and you can feel it push back.
As Rowan explained, this game was really a passion project by a small team who’s dedicated to get the game in their heads exactly right in application. They’re sticklers for details. It feels good to play, especially with a controller in your hands.
Local co-op makes you forget you’re playing on a PC. You can do everything you want. Literally five-to-ten minutes of my forty-minute interview was spent in silence while I tried to burrow fully underneath a mountain just to watch it fall onto itself. Wait ‘til you get to see the giant buzz saws I played with.