Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate for PS4 and PS Vita
I played this game off and on for months after getting it a while back as a PS+ game. It’s not perfect, but I actually enjoyed it a lot, with it definitely being one of my favourite games so far from the IGC. Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate takes the two original Pixeljunk Shooter games for the PS3, combines them together and remakes them for the PS4.
Pixeljunk Shooter is about a spaceship sent to rescue a group of scientists trapped underground on an alien planet. Whilst mining and researching, the scientists have unleashed something from the planet’s core as the ship goes deeper and deeper into the caverns of the world to rescue the personnel trapped there. The plot just fades into the background, but it does help to contribute to a pleasantly menacing atmosphere through much of the game.
I was put off Pixeljunk Shooter at first because it looked like a ship based shoot ‘em up bullet-hell, which isn’t a genre I’m particularly fussed about. I was wrong though; the game does have combat, and some pretty cool boss fights too, combat really isn’t the primary focus of the game. The player must make their way through a series of levels, each level made up of five zones. In each zone they must rescue the trapped scientists and also find gems which are used to unlock more levels. The player fights through these caverns to the scientists and then takes them to the next zone. Sounds pretty standard right?
The main draw of Pixeljunk Shooter is the range of different substances found in the depths of the planet and how they interact with you and each other. The most basic and common of the substances are water and lava. Water heals your ships shields, where lava destroys you. If you manage to mix them together, say by blowing up a barrier between them, they will combine and form rock which can be blasted through. There are loads of different substances, such as magnetic substances and bubbles which send your ship spinning around. They all interact in different ways and playing and mastering these myriad systems is a lot of fun. There are also different power-ups that you ship can temporarily use, such as changing your ship so that it heals in lava and is killed by water, or one which shoots jets of lava instead of the standard bullets. It’s complicated but never convoluted. The boss fights at the end of each area are fun and quite difficult. This game can be very tough, with my only real frustration being when you are taken out by a solitary drop of lava. I wish it had been a little more forgiving, but it was never too challenging.
Pixeljunk Shooter is simplistic but looks good, with the physics system holding up nicely for the myriad of liquids and gases at play. The music is really varied and interesting, with some grand dramatic themes, some laid back, cool and jazzy and one genuinely beautiful piano led piece which pops up towards the end. It should be incoherent, but it all works very well. The game just feels…well, cool. There’s something effortless and relaxed about Pixeljunk Shooter, the true mark of a game well made at almost every level.