Review: PixelJunk Monsters 2 (PS4)

Review: PixelJunk Monsters 2 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: PixelJunk Monsters 2
Format: PSN (2.6 GB)
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft, Inc.
Developer: Q-Games Ltd.
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £11.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

I adore the first PixelJunk Monsters game and played it obsessively on the PlayStation 3 and on the Vita. When Q-Games revealed the sequel I was elated, but some were concerned with the graphical style and feared it might be a sign of other changes to their beloved series.

Gameplay:
PixelJunk Monsters 2 is a simple game of real-time tower defense set in a cute but cruel world where the trees skirting the pathways to home can become an assortment of towers set to fire on anything in their small attack radius.

It pays to explore the surroundings since some coins and gems might be shaken from a tree or bush as the odd Tikiman character walks by. Plus, there is a small chance of discovering something else that will aid in the destruction of the enemy, or just slow them down.

Just like the previous game, upgrading the towers can either be done quickly via spending the rare gems or slowly, and for free, by standing close to them and waiting. After a short time, the anthropomorphic mask-wearing turtle creature will start banging on a drum and the upgrade meter slowly fills.

With each enemy vanquished by a tower the upgrade meter fills a bit, but this takes a lot longer than the above methods. Now your character can also pile-drive some enemies but it takes some skill and a small bit of luck.

Each stage has three difficulty levels and obtaining a perfect win for those gives a rainbow piece. Collecting enough of those clears the stormy clouds blocking access to new areas.

The first and easiest difficulty level has only one route used by the enemies, with the flying adversaries occasionally taking a slightly different route. After one or two attempts most players should get the hang of where to place certain towers and easily get that pretty rainbow.

Knowing what type of tower to use against the waves of enemies is the key to success. There isn’t any point in building a row of bomb producing placements when the level is mostly plump bumblebee enemies, for example.

Clumping all of the towers together can be beneficial unless there are too many fast enemies or they are all moving in a tight formation as certain towers focus on the enemy it spots first allowing the ones next to it to sneak by.

Visuals:
Some people will probably have a small issue with the main view in PixelJunk Monsters 2 as it sometimes feels a little too close and claustrophobic. Fear not as the awesome developers are already working on a patch to allow for the stage to be shown in its entirety.

The other view is very new to this beloved series as it shows a third-person view allowing for an up close and personal look at the surroundings and enemies. Speaking of which, the levels are very distinctive and gorgeous.

This is a crayon-colored bright and claylike world that is very different from almost any other game I can think of. There is one old fighting game series called ClayFighter but that pales in comparison to the distinctive beauty of this world.

Audio:
The music is just like the graphical style, quite unique. The best way to describe it is an 80’s synth-lullaby that soothes the player into a false sense of calm and relaxation.

The thud of an arrow hitting an enemy causes a cry of pain and a little speech bubble with “Ouch” inside. I almost feel sorry for the little things but that quickly fades as they draw closer to the little Chibis I’m protecting.

Online/Multiplayer:
PixelJunk Monsters 2 features both local and online co-op. I quite like the local mode as playing with the wife is always fun, especially when I run off and her character teleports to my location, much to her annoyance. At least it stops us from getting lost.

Online play is either through hosting or joining a game via a list of open games. Sadly, I have struggled to find any to join and the list is continually loading. Hosting a game has resulted in the same lack of interest and nobody has dropped into my game. In all fairness, the times I got to play have been quite sporadic of late and that probably factored into the lack of players online.

Conclusion:
PixelJunk Monsters 2 captures the same absorbing and addictive gameplay as its predecessor and builds on it with some good and bad outcomes. The change to a more realistic world not only looks refreshing but adds to the gameplay. Now I cannot just run through the woods to reach another part of the path, I have to, for example, run around the ridge and jump off a ledge. Taking a quick shortcut by jumping over a river could end up with loads of time and coins wasted if Tikiman falls in the drink.

At first, the idea of needing perfect scores to unlock new areas irked me but it also forced me to retry several times because one sneaky monster got past my defenses or I naively planned for the wrong enemy types, in fact, it forced me to learn the levels through plenty of trial and error. Normally that isn’t fun but, for the most part, it was in this addictive but tough game.

Some probably wish the series had just stayed the same but I’m glad they are trying a few new things. Some of it works really well and other things need some tweaking. Overall, I would say this evolution is a few steps in the right direction.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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