Pixel by Ratchet Game Studio is a poorly executed 3D platformer that draws liberally from Portal. The game is not only greatly flawed by glitches and handling, but it also fails to provide any substantial gameplay.
The nameless hero utilizes a Portal-esque gun that can manipulate strands of blocks to reach the exit of each level. The gun has three capabilities – briefly extends white strands, briefly slow orange strands and briefly extend multiple white strands from farther distances. Each capability needs a particular attachment of the gun selected to operate that you pick-up as the game progresses. The gun selection is made by toggling with the bumper buttons.
Rob of Ratchet Game Studio pegged Pixel as a puzzle game. Well, to be honest, the only puzzle about Pixel is how it got past peer review in its current state, or found its way onto the schedule of Uprising III. The game has a lot of promise, but it flounders and flops frequently, almost as if Rob wanted to see how much of a hassle he could make his game to play. Pixel has phantom platforms, glitch-y platforms and gonna-throw-the-controller-at-the-screen-cause-this-game-is-so-annoying platforms. Take your pick, because you will encounter all three throughout the game, if you actually complete the game that is.
Perhaps the greatest point of concern is jumping. Jumping in Pixel, like many other games, is a key to success. Yet, unlike so many other games, Pixel just cannot seem to get it to work. This is likely due to the sanitary-like clean room environment the game is played. You have no point of reference when making jumps – no shadows, no trees, just an endless, white abyss. So, many times you are going to jump too far or too short, and have to start the level from scratch. To add insult to injury, the jump button seems erratic at some points. You will press the jump button and run off a cliff, only to find you never took the jump and helpless miss the platform you were aiming for. The game does seem to show some pity later on in levels as jumps are closer together, but the overall frustration associated with such an integral aspect of a game is ridiculous.
The puzzle that will turn off many of potential players is one level in particular. In the level, you need to go jump from multiple platforms and then you the elevator strand to go up. The problem occurs mostly on the first jump. You need to jump onto a platform and then extend up the entire platform to be able to jump to the next one. The problem occurs when you die; you cannot seem to land on the first platform again. You jump onto the platform and when you try to go up, you will fall off automatically. This seems to be a glitch in the game, and it is unacceptable.
The game is also short, a fact that one must wonder if it is a great kindness. If the game were Portal, it would end a chamber after you get the second half of the portal gun. However, the shortness of the game is masked by the fact you are dying so often due to lackadaisical controls. Pixel seems designed for a speed run, with most of the times to beat coming well under a minute. If someone were to actually succeed at beating those times, the game would be finished in less than 20 minutes.
An old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, when something is as broken as Pixel, you better FIX IT! When other people note the same problems, one has to wonder what game the beta testers were playing to not mention these glaring issues. The whole game feels like a final paper a senior would turn in on the day before graduation – it was well planned out, but during the final stretch right before proofreading, he decided to go out and get trashed. That being said, Pixel does implement some interesting mechanics and the final level hints at more levels and puzzles being added in the future. With some quality revision and time, Pixel could potentially become a little gem on XBLIG. However, in its current state, Pixel is not worth the time it takes to delete it off your hard drive. This game would easily be forgettable, if it was not so bad.
Final Rating: 5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: XBLIG
Time to completion: A very frustrating hour and a half.
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: 80MSP ($1)
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommend Purchase Price: Can’t go lower.
Why you should buy it: An interesting take on a first-person shooter-puzzle hybrid that could potentially have a patch to fix in the future.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: It will frustrate you and will continue to frustrate you.