Monday, August 18, 2008
PixelJunk Braiden Retro Evolved
We may end up remembering 2008 as the year that downloadable console games finally took hold. They've been helped to this point by a lackluster slate of disc-based games -- the year's two highest-profile releases so far have met expectations, at best, and massively underperformed them, at worst.
No, this year, if you want to play great games, you have to download them. I've nothing left to say on the subject of Geometry Wars 2. In fact, this weekend I made the difficult decision to delete it from my system in order to save both my productivity and emotional wellbeing. They say if you love something, you should set it free.
But that freed me up to try a couple of other downloadable games I've been itching to play. First was the surprisingly robust PixelJunk Eden demo. I kept expecting it to cut me off. Instead, it kept sending me back into the first garden to collect more and more bright shiny objects. Others have expounded at length about this game's curious appeal, which was more than evident in the demo. Given my brief playtime, I don't want to say anything definitive. But it struck me just how unlike major releases this game seemed to be in terms of aesthetics and gameplay, and how stale most of the disc-based games I've played this year have seemed in comparison.
And then there's Braid. What can I say about Braid? Very little, in fact, because I don't want to scoop my own review. I can say this: It's not the best game I've played this year, but without question it's the most original -- dare I say the most important? I don't know. Takes some time to sort out a question like that. In this moment, though, Braid certainly feels important. And it feels alive in a way that Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid IV, and any other bigger, better, and more badass sequel has yet this year.