Gaming has gone through several generations over the years. From the original Donkey King to Overwatch, gaming has gone through some rather serious changes. Whether it be more detailed worlds or more accurate controls, these changes have been altering how we play and what our games are capable of. There have been several games that tackle the ever-changing gaming landscape through their environments, characters, mechanics, and stories. A Pixel Story doesn’t try to retell the story of gaming or anything that complicated. Instead, A Pixel Story chooses to use the various generations of gaming as a sort of mechanic that keeps the player character from completing their task. Traveling from generation to generation throughout The System is by far the most interesting part of the game.
Beginning as a dot in a game of Pong, our hero soon gains a body and a new companion that explains whats going on in this new, wide world. With tons and tons of dialogue text to read, I personally became bogged down by all the reading and lore dumping that happens at the beginning of the game. This would have been avoided if players could walk around while this text was read aloud or something, but I understand the limitations and won’t be too critical about the dialogue. Although, the entire first level is full of boring, easy platforming that seemed to drag on and on (possibly due to me rushing through puzzles and dying in many stupid ways). I also noticed there were several areas I couldn’t access yet and I quickly realized that I was being forced through the level since I didn’t have a particular piece of equipment.
Luckily, once I had gotten the equipment I needed, I was able to easily fast travel back to the first level and explore quite a bit more of it due to the game’s checkpoint and fast travel system. With checkpoints dotting the map after every few puzzles, dying becomes much less threatening as it isn’t that large of a punishment. These checkpoints aren’t just for respawning however as they can also be warped to whenever needed. Using this, I was able to backtrack really quickly and move throughout the levels with ease. I feel like this fast travel system encourages exploration and even makes it far more accessible to players that hate backtracking.
Sporting some rather simple controls, A Pixel Story only asks players to walk around, jump on platforms, and use the powers of the magical hat. The walking around and jumping are normal enough and not really of too much note. However, when the protagonist’s magical hat is introduced, things get far more interesting. Simply put, players can leave their hat nearly anywhere in a level and choose to either warp to the hat or bring it back to them to use somewhere else. This entire mechanic is really unique and makes many of the puzzles and fun and engaging despite being so simplistic in design. My only issue with the actual gameplay has to be that I often found myself sliding off small platforms and not jumping as far as I wanted because I messed up my momentum.
Using the magical hat and less-than-perfect platforming, players will explore the game’s various levels and overarching story. The story is a little generic, having the protagonist be some sort of chosen one with a magical artifact that they will use to defeat some sort evil tyrant that has taken over a world or two. After so many levels, the game will have players go to a new generation with a new look and sound. There are several of these generations and each one brings the protagonist closer and closer to modern games. The changing art was my favorite part of these difference generations, as each generation becomes smoother and more detailed. The game’s music is also updated with each generation, losing its chip tune aspects for a much smoother and cleaner sound. The only issue I have with the music is how repetitive it feels. Even if there are several different songs, I couldn’t tell many of them apart as they all sound rather similar.
A Pixel Story is an interesting game as it tackles platforming and puzzles in new and interesting ways. Although the gameplay is interesting, the most interesting thing the game has to offer must be the addition and exploration of the various generations. These generations feel like a reward for doing well enough at the game to finish each area. The art updating with each generation gives players something to look forward to as they explore the game. This exploration is made far easier by the game’s checkpoint and fast travel system, which allows players to get around the world with relative ease. Despite the game’s rather slow beginning, I can easily say it’s worth sticking it out to see just how good the other sections of the game can truly be.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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