Platforms: Windows, PS4
I can’t help but wonder what happens with developers who, after producing several excellent games, manage to put together something that just doesn’t work, but they go ahead an release it anyway. I fell in love with PixelJunk Eden, really enjoyed PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate, and was ridiculously excited about PixelJunk Nom Nom Galaxy, but as it turns out, it was definitely a PixelJunk Trainwreck.
I’d really like to cut Q-Games a little slack here – they’re primarily creating content for console platforms, and if the only issue was one of controls, I might have tried to be a little more patient with the Nom Nom Galaxy experience. Initially, I thought the game was completely broken – upon entering the tutorial level, a text box popped up with no way to exit it and continue. This is because, despite not having a controller hooked up to my PC, the game automatically assumed I would be using one, and disabled keyboard control for this function. Even after hooking up a controller while in game, I couldn’t proceed and had to force quit the application.
On my next attempt, I went into the controls menu, and changed the input for player one to keyboard and mouse, and that allowed me to proceed through the tutorial. Game play felt slow and a little clumsy, but I tried to chalk that up to learning curve. The tutorial is fairly short, and I foolishly expected some sort of guidance to continue on into the first scenario. It didn’t. It only took me moments to completely screw up, and when I tried to hit escape to restart the scenario, nothing happened. I figured, ok, I’ll run out of oxygen, and it’ll kick me back to the menu. Nope, instant respawn and there didn’t seem to be any penalty for dying, so why do I even have to manage oxygen anyway?
After several more minutes of frustration, I decided to force close the program again. This wasn’t fun, I didn’t understand it, and I just felt tremendously let down by the whole experience. Attempting to do some research afterwards, I discovered that the web page for Nom Nom Galaxy was still talking about Early Access release on Steam (something that happened in March of 2014), and that was just one more indication of how little attention was given to this game past the concept stage.
Which is a shame, because the concept is fantastic. Combine a game about exploring, resource management, and tower defense, make the graphics and storyline quirky, and it sounds like it should be fantastic. Instead it’s marred by inconsistent controls, lack of clear instructions, a seemingly meaningless life support system, and input lag in online co-op that makes the game nearly unplayable. PixelJunk Nom Nom Galaxy isn’t even close to being worth the price in its current state, and there’s nothing that even gives a glimmer of hope that they may put in the effort to fix it up. I have no idea if the same issues plague the PS4 version, but if you’re planning to play on PC, give this one a pass.