Review: Pixel Boy Has Plenty Of Pixel Power With A Few Imbalances
Pixel Boy, or Pixel Boy and the Ever Expanding Dungeon, is a top-down dungeon crawler, with roguelike elements, which we have watched with great trepidation. Giant Box Games, consisting of Dominic Obojkovits and David Nickerson, a South African-based indie studio have been developing Pixel Boy for awhile. Now with the game's release, how does the end product hold up?
- Worth The Time?Pixel Boy is an addictive experience which torments you with challenging enemies around every corner. This is definitely worth the time if you are a hardcore fan of roguelikes and dungeon crawlers.
- Things LovedIt must be said that the ability to combine powerups, craft them together, construct armour from various orbs you collect as Pixel Boy and the challenging enemy types make Pixel Boy enjoyable. The shooting mechanics are extremely fun. Plus, the brilliant visual and audio design also mark Pixel Boy as a quality indie game.
- Things HatedHowever, Pixel Boy can at times be quite repetitive with environments only slightly changing as you progress through the game. The procedurally generated nature of maps means that you can never truly know your way around the dungeon, and so you die quite easily. But this is somewhat remedied by the fact that you keep the coins you collect and the armour orbs as well, once you die. If you die you keep none of your collected ammunition which boosts the roguelike aspect of Pixel Boy.
- RecommendationIf you're a seasoned fan of roguelikes and challenging dungeon crawlers then Pixel Boy is definitely the game for you. But if you're a casual fan of these genres, it is best to look elsewhere.
- Name: Pixel Boy and the Ever Expanding Dungeon
- Genre: RPG
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
- Developer: Giant Box Games
- Publisher: Giant Box Games
- Price: $9.99 (R105)
- Reviewed On: PC
After getting a chance previously to interview the team behind Pixel Boy, it was great to finally be able to review the game. Pixel Boy is a fun and challenging top-down dungeon crawler shoot-em-up hybrid, which fancies elements from the rogulike genre, and mixes them with the frantic pace and challenge of a bullet hell shooter.
In Pixel Boy and the Ever Expanding Dungeon, the titular character of Pixel Boy is granted pixel powers which give him the ability to shoot pixels at enemies he encounters. Pixel Boy makes his way to the town of Resolutia where he is tasked with the mission of making his way through the dungeon and clearing out all the monsters he comes across. The game consists of four acts in total with an epic boss at the end of each act. Every map in every dungeon is procedurally generated meaning that every time you die and have to re-enter the dungeon the layout and enemies spawning could be very different to your previous experience. In essence, your experience in Pixel Boy will be random every time. Every dungeon you make your way through is filled with dangerous enemies which you as Pixel Boy have to combat with powerups, your shield and the armour you can craft.
There are of course various tools at your disposal including stackable powerups, or pixel powers, which effect the type of shot you shoot at enemies, the manner in which your shots are dispersed and various other stats of your shots including damage, range and the like. In dungeons, you can also collect coloured orbs and other powerups as enemy drops and from randomly generated treasure chests you come across. The coloured orbs can be combined in town to create a wide array of various armour types which can go up to different levels and have different stat boosts attached to them, such as increasing damage, speed, range and health. Depending on what orbs you combine the armour will be very different with abilities and effects dependent on the tier of armour, as well as orbs used to make the armour.
The same concept applies to powerups which can be combined in limitless combinations with as many powerups as you can handle creating super combo powerups that you can equip in one of Pixel Boy’s equipment slots. Equipping Pixel Boy with different powerups can help create devastating pixel shots which includes shots such as Spreadshot, Shields, Splitshot, Heat seekers, Critical Strike Modifiers and even Time Stoppers. Some of the more specialised pixel powers are for one-time use, but when combined can have devastating effects upon enemies. Ultimately there are over 6000 power combinatons which can be used. It must be noted that in Pixel Boy all of the pixel powers have limited shots which means you have to be strategic and decisive with how you use your ammunition throughout the dungeons you explore.
When you first make your way through one of the dungeons you’ll see that Pixel Boy is challenging from the outset. As mentioned before, all the rooms and the maps themselves are randomly generated by the game and as such many of the rooms in Pixel Boy are unique. When entering a room you’ll have to be wary of traps, as triggering a trap could look you in a room spawning a significant amount of monsters which will doom you to death. When you die in Pixel Boy, you are returned to the town of Resolutia with all your coins and armour orbs, except you lose all of your pixel powers bringing a bit of a roguelike challenge to the game. Yet in this regard the game is quite fair as you can easily restock some pixel powers from one of the merchants in town and craft yourself some pretty decent armour. Exploring dungeons is of vital importance in Pixel Boy as you can easily come across unique pixel powers and treasure rooms if you do a bit of meandering. Also remember to collect keys because you might come across a number of treasure chests and you will need all the ammunition you can get because ammunition consists of limited quantities.
Pixel Boy is a challenging and at times difficult game which banks on very roguelike-inspired mechanics, without perma-death. As stated before, every time you die you respawn in town with your coins and armour orbs which means the game isn’t overly difficult to the point of absurdity, which is well appreciated. Pixel Boy also has challenging enemy types which makes the game even more enjoyable and shooting mechanics are extremely fun. Add to this, a brilliant visual style with beautiful particle physics and an interesting use of the top-down perspective, and Pixel Boy is indeed unique among its peers. Additionally, the audio design in the game marks Pixel Boy as a quality indie game. Especially with the exceptional electronic soundtrack composed by French artist Pyramid, and the hilarious narrator is an added bonus. However, the game is not without some issues.
Pixel Boy can at times be quite repetitive with environments only slightly changing as you progress through the game. The randomly generated nature of maps means that you can never truly know your way around the dungeon, and so you die quite easily. But this is somewhat remedied by the fact that you keep the coins you collect and the armour orbs as well, once you die. Pixel Boy tussles between trying to appeal to casual fans of dungeon crawlers and roguelikes whilst pleasing more hardcore fans of these genres, and the game doesn’t really find a fine balance. It is for that reason that Pixel Boy is suited to seasoned fans of roguelikes and dungeon crawlers. The challenge at times can be somewhat overwhelming and this may not appeal to everyone’s tastes.
Yet for those interested in a challenging roguelike-inspired dungeon crawler, with a bit of bullet hell shooter mechanics thrown in the mix, Pixel Boy will be right up their alley.