PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate PC Review
PixelJunk Monsters is a game that is beloved over here at Darkzero towers, which is why when the recent Steam release of was upon us I snatched the review copy for my own grubby mitts. This is a game I had always wanted to play, but for some reason never had done… until now. Five years has passed since the game originally released, the question on everyone’s lips (well. mine at least) was, “has it aged well?”
Finally making its way to the PC (and Mac) after 5 years on the Playstation consoles, PixelJunk Monsters still looks rather lovely and endearing, the wonderful hand-drawn visuals showcased throughout are more testament to the games almost timeless art style rather than graphical bumps in line with specification increases the switch to PC/Mac hardware brings to many games. Your graphical options on PC are pretty much restricted to resolution alone, this is not necessarily a bad thing as thanks to Steams Cloud saving features you can play the game regardless of specs. The high-resolution visuals ensure that for those new to the game, the PC version is without a doubt the way to go.
For those of you who are new to the series or are curious as to what on earth this game is, PixelJunk Monsters is from a genre of games known as Tower Defence (which falls under the Strategy banner), where you are tasked with protecting a base or area from attack by building various forms of defensive towers and turrets.
In PixelJunk Monsters, you play as an amenable gent (is he even a gent, what is he? Oh, a Forest Defender) known as Tikiman, a cute little character who crab shuffles his way around the screen tasked with protecting 20 of his brothers/sisters. Utilising the ever-energetic Tikiman, you shuffle around the screen changing trees into towers that will both defend your base and attack the various enemy creatures. These towers can only be built using currency, which is obtained by scuttling around in the greenery knocking coins from trees, or by collecting the coins scattered around by the variety of enemies killed by your defensive forces. These enemies attack in waves, and your only way of repelling them is by careful and tactical placing of your towers based on the movements of the enemies through the obstacles scattered around the screen. The deceased foes don’t just drop coins though; they also drop aqua coloured gems and these gems enable you to upgrade each of your towers damage and reload response abilities. The usefulness of these gems does not just stop there, as saving these gems also gives you the opportunity to unlock new forms of towers which each have different attributes. You will be able to unlock the electrical current spouting Tesla Tower and much more, each tower having a different response, range, damage outlay and reloading time.
As you progress through the game, you will come across a variety of environments inspired by the seasons. Taking place over 3 unique and distinct islands and comprising 47 levels in total, expect to see spring bloom infused environments, shifting to winter inspired snow covered terrain, moving to the likes of volcanoes, and more. For those of you who have played a Super Mario game before, think of those environs and you will have an idea of some of the visuals you will be pleasantly surprised by.
PixelJunk Monsters may take some of its clues from games that have come before it, but that is not a bad thing. Clearly lots of care and time was lavished upon each element of the game. It shines through both in its visuals, but also in how it plays.
The gameplay and game itself is much the same as our two previous reviews, covering both the PS3 and PsVita versions. Over the last 5 years, not much has changed with regards to the gameplay, however that doesn’t mean the PC version has been released with no new content to enhance the original (fantastic) experience. The Encore add-on that was previously released on PS3 also features, bringing with it 15 levels on “Toki Island” as well as new level-specific challenges that require you to beat levels in various ways. These new add-ons take the original game modes and with the addendum of task challenges really flesh out the whole experience; the addition of Tum-Tum island turns the game on its head, as it randomly generates levels which provide the potential for limitless replay ability.
Multiplayer is also a feature to give credit where due, and is another great way to extend the offline experience. Playing as various coloured Tikimen, you can play co-operatively with your friends and other online players in the battle for leaderboard supremacy. LAN play is also featured for local-party games, and, in the current age of PC games that might force online multiplayer (and online logins) without really adding to the experience, it’s refreshing to have all the features of online available as local-party features that I much prefer to being heckled by some faceless entity.
In vein with its wholesomely endearing experience, it’s pleasing to note that the PixelJunk Monsters soundtrack is a pleasing addition. When you play a game and find yourself subconsciously humming along to the little jaunty soundtrack as you dispatch multiple foes, something is right. That feeling of right is pretty much the embodiment of my whole time playing PixelJunk Monsters. Having finally gotten around to playing the game with the PC release, I can’t help but kick myself for not picking this up until now. But then I continue playing and any frustrations I had (towards myself) dissipate and I find myself ensconced in the delight of this game once more.
Playing a game originally released 5 years before, you could forgive my skepticism in approaching this game, but any such misgivings were immediately redacted the moment I began the game. In videogames, 5 years is a heck of a long-time, in consoles it’s generally been the entirety of a generation. However, time has been kind to PixelJunk Monsters, ageing like a fine wine. I have no qualms in recommending this game to fans of the Tower Defence genre and new-comers alike. Now hurry and port the other PixelJunk games please!