I don't know if any of you have studied organic chemistry at any point in your life, but if you're anything like me you'll probably find it all pretty repulsive.
To be honest, I'm simply not interested in learning about stems and stamens, egg fertilisation and pollination... really it's a bit like the inner workings of the digestive system. Sure, it's complicated and ultimately necessary for our continued existence, but I'm quite happy to continue through life completely oblivious to the billions of bacteria fornicating in my lower abdomen.
Q-Games, however, has taken the concept of organic reproduction and applied it to the home entertainment market.
Never ones to shy away from mindless 2D madness, the PixelJunk crew have adopted their vision and created something utterly bizarre in the form of PixelJunk Eden.
The last PixelJunk title we had anything to do with was PixelJunk Monsters, which in all fairness is pretty much the best tower defence title available on any console, period. Happily, PixelJunk has carried across the concept of a small, likeable character in some sort of peril to the new title, as in Eden you get to control a "Grimp".
Your Grimp only really has basic movement options available; you can jump, and... well, that's it really. The central concept in Eden is to move the Grimp through the level (known as the garden) by leaping from surface to surface (primarily comprised of plants) in order to reach the Spectra, a kind of light-emitting bulb usually located at the upper reaches of each garden.
The catch here is that the plants required to reach the Spectra haven't actually grown yet. The real purpose of your Grimp, and possibly evidence of some fairly nasty double-entendre by the developers, is to act as a reproductive aid. Plants grow from small cells which must be pollinated in order to grow, so whilst leaping from plant to plant you need to come in contact with as many Pollen Prowlers as you can. These floating orbs explode and release pollen to the nearest plant cell available, eventually causing it to sprout.
If it were just down to leaping about and hitting Pollen Prowlers, it'd be a fairly tedious experience. Fortunately, you can secure your Grimp to plant surfaces by means of a silk thread. This allows you to spin the Grimp in a fairly large radius, and each Pollen Prowler that contacts either the orbiting Grimp, or the silk thread in a spinning arc will release its contents and contribute to the pollination of a nearby plant.
Of course, things aren't always as simple as they sound - as the setting appears to be some kind of primeval ooze, your Grimps trajectory with each leap is hindered by the viscosity of whatever fluid he's passing through. This allows you to use the controller to "brake" him, to stop those leaps from sending you right out of the garden and incurring a penalty. You can also alter the length of the silk thread using the bumper buttons, which is a nice touch and allows you to reconnect to your host plant at any time.
Be aware too - not every level is comprised solely of plants. You may come across rocks from time to time which don't play by the rules, the first evidence of which is when you try to attach a silk thread and ultimately fall to the bottom level of the garden when it fails to attach. Falling isn't good. Falling and missing every single thing on the way down is worse, and it will happen.
The level designs may be fairly straightforward, but the colours and artistry is anything but. Although it's presented as a serious game, you'll find yourself looking at the backgrounds, wondering how the developers managed to make everything just flow so well. It's like you're trapped inside a lava lamp, but in a good way.
As with any arcade styled title there's always a time limit, but those wishing to prolong the Grimp's experience in the garden can collect various tokens (in the same manner as Pollen Prowlers) which extend the clock, sometimes just long enough to reach that last Spectra. There's also an amusing co-operative play mode whereby up to two other people can each enter the garden with you, and use your Grimp to assist them through the level, throwing each other around like a bunch of maniacal circus performers. You can even record your actions and upload directly to a YouTube account, or simply gloat about your score using the online leaderboard facility.
There's a lot to like about Eden, so here's the bad. I know various other sites out there have raved about the background music, but frankly I found it repetitive and boring. I really enjoyed the Monsters soundtrack, it was appropriately uplifting and energetic, and the low notes were even enough to encourage some foul language from my neighbour during one late night session. Eden, not so much. The game has enough in the way of unique conceptual artistry and posh eccentricity for my liking without garnishing it with the sound of a dishwasher being interfered with.
But really, that's about all I can fault it for. It's not going to appeal to people who have to have the latest and greatest FPS title to feel like they're gaming, but if you want a fun challenge that will get your co-ordination cranking then it's worth a go. Just be sure to grab the demo from PSN first though.