At first glance, Pix the Cat appears to be a relatively simple arcade experience. However, this unassuming exterior belies its innovative and addictive mechanics, as well its surfeit of surplus content. Make no mistake, this is an insanely infectious indie which absolutely deserves your attention.
At its core, Pastagames’ latest is an intense arcade experience, which demands a staggering amount of mental wherewithal. You play as the titular cat, and must work your way through mazes, avoiding enemies, collecting eggs, and then depositing them in their rightful positions. Crucially, you can drop off the eggs you’ve collected at any time, but you’ll only get a perfect score if you pick them all up before you begin their deposition.
When you’ve cleared out a level, a small portal will open, allowing you to travel to the next area. What’s more, the better that you perform, the higher your multiplier will rise, so it behoves you to keep on top of things. Ultimately, it feels like a bizarre and utterly compelling combination of Snake and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. Which is to say that it’ll likely worm its way into your head, and then refuse to leave for days on end.
The game also features a plethora of other modes, each unique and deep enough to be considered a separate game in its own right. The first, Laboratory mode, is a much slower, more methodical experience. You’ll guide the cat around a maze as usual, but when he starts moving in a direction, he won’t stop till he hits a wall. What’s more, you must pick up all of the eggs before you drop them off in their respective slots. As mentioned, this creates a much more measured experience, but one that is still incredibly satisfying.
Nostalgia mode resembles the game’s main experience more closely, but with a few tweaks. Most notably, you can’t drop off the eggs that you pick up. This has the potential to make the experience simpler, but instead the developers use it as an excuse to throw as many new mechanics at you as possible. Indeed, because the levels are discrete, they can each focus on just one or two ideas. Finally, there's the Arena, which provides a suitably chaotic multiplayer experience in the same vein as the main mode.
Perhaps most impressive about the title, though, is its plethora of small but incredibly smart design choices. For instance, the Laboratory mode features a clever and subtly contextualised system which shows you what moves you took on your best run. Another example is the soundtrack, which slowly adds more and more duck sounds as you collect more and more of the adorable amphibious allies. Indeed, the game is absolutely bursting at the seams with similar clever little nods. Individually, these touches aren’t terribly noteworthy, but the fact that it contains so many of them never ceases to be impressive
Ultimately, this speaks to the title’s unprecedented levels of polish. Every single surface has been carefully constructed to work exactly as it should, and nowhere is this more evident than in the game’s presentation. The visuals in each of the separate modes have been expertly tailored to suit their specific styles and contexts, with the film grain crackles of the nostalgia mode being a standout. Similarly, the music is catchy, claustrophobic, and utterly infectious.
Unfortunately, there is one key area in which the game falls down. While the controls work well for the most part, there are times when they seem to be actively working against you. You can either opt to use the directional pad or the analogue sticks to control our fearless feline hero, but neither really does the job properly; the former feels a bit too stiff, while the latter creates the opposite problem. Unsurprisingly, these issues are only exaggerated on the Vita version. At any rate, in a game which demands so much precision, it’s a bit disappointing that such an important aspect feels undercooked.
Pix the Cat is a fiendishly addictive arcade experience. Featuring a bevy of different modes, rock solid core mechanics, and a ludicrous level of polish, it has the potential to devour gaping chunks of your time. Unfortunately, slightly shonky controls let the title down, but if you can look past this misstep, you’ll find hours of leaderboard climbing action.
Game of the year.
I agree with everything the review said but since I love arcade style games it's 9/10 for me.
I looked at the trophy list, one of the trophies is to get in the top ten on the leader boards? Seriously? Its a dud as far as I am concerned. If the trophies are not reasonably attainable (being in the top 10 people in the world is hardly a reasonable target), then it does not matter how good the game is.
Seems interesting. I'll buy it someday.
@thedevilsjester Unless you, you know, don't play just for the sake of trophies.
@Nickolaidas @thedevilsjester The game's still brilliant regardless of the Trophies, but I do agree with you that it's a very poorly designed set of trinkets. Developers need to do better at making these entertaining to attain.
I'm really enjoying this Snake/Pacman hybrid. Very cool design with stimulating gameplay. The only problem I have, which you mentioned, is the controls. They feel a bit off and doesn't always respond the way you want them to. Either way this game deserves to be noticed.
I found it a very sloppy game with chunky controls, just played about 2 hours and I got bored, bad because i had high expectations for this one.
@Nickolaidas I never said 'just'. If a game has an amazing trophy list, but terrible game play, I am not going to play it. If a game has amazing game play but a terrible trophy list, I am not going to play it. A game to me is a combination of its game play and its list of tasks/goals/achievements/trophies/etc... If one is terrible, it does not matter how good the other is.
I don't really believe you mean that, thedevilsjester, unless you're really obsessed. Just a few years ago, and even still on other platforms, trophies didn't even exist and we had great games coming out anyway. They are in no way, not even on a PS4 in this day and age, essential elements of a game.
I also wanna add that I think Pix doesn't really have terrible trophies (to each its own). In Pix I appreciate the trophies that I have earned (3) only more. I felt proud of every achievement, in comparison to the trophies in AC4, of which you earn roughly 70% by just completing the game.
Last remark: there is by the way a 'challenge system' in Pix the Cat. It has all the usual challenges (like 'score x points' 'finish all levels', etc.) in a trophy-way with even better bonuses in the form of really cool artwork, music, etc.
On the controls:
I feel that the wacky controls are more a problem of the PS4, whose directional pad just doesn't feel as great as a lot of other controllers I have played. I really love the DS4 and all that it does, but it just isn't really that great for arcade games. The Nintendo controllers would be way more suited for these type of games.
Whenever I play Pix I notice I get much higher scores when playing with greasy hands (from crisps for example), than without. Really strange.
Anyway, great review for a game that has become one of my picks of the year. Normally I'm not that into arcade games, but this one is addicting... wow. (And that soundtrack is awesome)
We are just not on the same stratosphere here. Played it for five minutes, thought "I got over Pacman 30 years ago" and went "whatever". Turned it off. I just have no interest in the genre. Oh well. Maybe as a Vita time-waster, but it will not be getting any PS4 time around here.
Played like 3 times before, and never played again.
I give it 2/10...
Needs more cats.
@hadlee73: Wow, thanks for the tip on the daily leaderboard.
Installed, played, deleted.
Wasn't for me! Maybe I'll give it a bash again one day but nahhhh, not my type of game.
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