Title: A Pixel Story
Developer: Lamplight Studios
Release Date: February 24th, 2017
Platforms Available: Xbox One, PlayStation 4
A Pixel Story is a puzzle platformer with a retro feel that takes you deep into the world of gaming. This 2D indie game developed by Lamplight Studios puts the fate of the video game universe in your hands as you traverse six diverse worlds to take down the evil OS and restore the memory back to its normal state. You play a character that probably looks familiar for a few different reasons. You begin as a ball in a game of Pong in the introduction sequence, and then you are given what looks like the body of Rayman, the hat of Mario, and a yellow cape. As you journey through the perils and puzzles of the game you are accompanied by a little robot helper named Search who provides tutorial help and hints. The goal of your quest is to collect diamonds, which are the fragments of memory you need to overthrow the evil OS. Many other NPCs exist that you can interact with, each holding a little humor to share with you and help you along your way. Some even give you side quests, an element not found in most platformers. The story does not progress as much as you would expect because the graphics are supposed to do the story telling, but I expected a lot more out of the transitions than I found while playing. Still, there are lots of gaming references to find that bring back fond moments in gaming history, and that adds a touch of magic to the story. It is a little short, but not so short that it isn’t worth the time or money.
While the story is a fun ride, the gameplay mechanics leave quite a bit to be desired. Your hat unlocks the ability to teleport, which has many different applications both in puzzles and in gameplay. But this title lacks something essential to any platformer game: double jump. Your jump is never upgraded, double pressing or holding the button do nothing. It isn’t what I would call a deal-breaker, but the jumping mechanic is not very responsive and often times tricky to get just right. You can use the hat to jump a little further/higher, but not enough. The game utilizes jump springs as well, but their aim is off and it is hard to guess where you are going to land. I did run in to a big glitch that almost stopped me from continuing the game where when I jumped to a certain platform I just slid across it and into a spike pit. This was fixed by uninstalling and reinstalling, thankfully, but it is worth mentioning. Aside from the skittish controls the music is great, exactly what you would expect, and the graphics are excellent for what it is supposed to be, a throwback 2D game. The difficulty of the game increases in a natural way as you go from world to world, and there are special challenge rooms you can get to by spending coins to unlock more diamond memories.
While I really enjoyed the story line and premise of the game, I felt like the mechanics needed a lot more work and polishing, which took away from some of the fun. All in all I would recommend buying this game if you like classic games, platformers, and unique graphics and storytelling.