PixelJunk Monsters Review

PixelJunk Monsters is one of those games with pretty simple mechanics that manage to create a game with a surprising amount of depth. It's not as easy to succeed in the game as it is to play, which will undoubtedly lead to some frustration for some gamers. Those who look at that difficulty as a challenge and like games that challenge their minds as much as their reflexes, however, will probably find themselves really enjoying this downloadable gem.

The basics of the game are, well, pretty basic. You have a hut full of cute little villagers and a stream of monsters determined to do them in. The monsters come streaming in in waves from one end of the screen and your poor villagers huddle together on the other. Separating them is a forest with a path that leads from the monsters' entry point to the villagers. It is your job to protect the villagers and to do that you'll need to eliminate the monsters before they get to your people. To do this you'll be able to convert the trees of the forest into defensive towers that can shoot, bomb, and do other things to help stop the steady stream of monsters.

Can't see the towers for the trees?

You control the little guy in charge of stopping the monsters. When you stand over a tree you can press a button that pops up a little radial menu that lets you choose from the towers available. Not all towers will be available initially, but more on that in a bit. Once a tower is built it will function automatically, targeting any monsters that come within range of the tower. As towers take out monsters, they build up experience and eventually they will automatically upgrade themselves to the next level. The effect on the tower depends on the type of tower it is. It may get a larger range, more powerful weapons, etc. You can speed up the process by dancing on the tower to build up its experience at an accelerated rate, but time spent dancing is time spent not doing something else.

As monsters are destroyed they drop coins and occasionally gems. If you're not quick to pick them up they will begin to flash and then disappear. You'll need to collect as many as you can because it's the coins that pay for your towers, so no coins means no more towers. The gems are used to unlock new types of towers or you can spend them to immediately upgrade a tower without taking the time to do your little dance.

As you have probably surmised by now, there are a lot of strategic choices to make in this game. Tower selection and placement is of course critical, but you also need to manage your time well since you can only be at one place at a time. You'll never be able to collect all of the dropped coins, upgrade all of your towers, and build all of the towers that you would like. And the game doesn't really ease you into things either. There is a nice tutorial that will teach you everything that you need to know to play the game, but after that the going gets tough right away. The first level has you defending against ten waves of monsters of several different varieties, with the last wave being a bouncing boss monster that will take a lot of damage before you can bring it down. And from there the levels get progressively harder. If you frustrate easily you will probably quickly feel overwhelmed, but if you like a challenge you will find the game compelling in an almost obsessive kind of way. After losing your last villager you'll be convinced that you've finally figured out the optimal tower placement and will want to immediately give the level another try. This is the very essence of a good game.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 88%. It may have the word "junk" in its title, but this game is a monster of a good time.


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