Pixel Galaxy is an addictive game. It’s fast paced, difficult, and remarkably charming in its fluorescent cubic graphics. This game has incredible DNA. There are elements ranging from classic games like Asteroids and Galaga, to newer titles such as Geometry Wars and Super Hexagon. Pixel Galaxy feels similar to spacey bullet hell games, but is interesting and enthralling enough to stand on its own two pixelated feet.

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You’re not so big

In Pixel Galaxy you play a pixel. Your objective is  to dodge incoming fire from enemy pixels, while simultaneously moving in an attempt to assimilate enemies into your…. pixel ship? (It’s never really made clear what, if anything your pixel represents but I went with spaceship.) While it may sound simple, there is a surprising amount of depth to the game’s combat. Certain enemy pixels have different firing patterns. If you want to assimilate an enemy that fires a halo of projectiles, you better be willing to sacrifice some of your ship’s hull in the process. In addition, there are a variety of pixel types that have different effects on your ship outside of combat. Speed pixels increase the overall speed of your ship, shield pixels grant you armor, boss spheres are the equivalent to an extra life, and bomb pixels make you rip your keyboard out of its USB port and throw it at the wall.

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Fear the mighty SS. Bit Ripper!

I was very pleased at how the mechanics of the Pixel Galaxy inherently balance the gameplay. You might loose half of your ship in an unexpected cross-screen laser blast, but now your ship’s overall profile is smaller and therefore less susceptible to incoming fire. With that said, the game can feel unfair at times. With no way of countering enemy fire, a large ship is destined to be whittled away by the crazy amount of deadly blocks floating about the screen, regardless of the skill of the player. There will be times when you sit helplessly waiting for a barrage of death squares to wreck havoc on your ship.

Level difficulty also feels like it needs re-calibrating. The levels are noticeably different every time you play them. While one playthrough at easy difficulty might start the level with a few waves of relatively harmless blocks, the next playthrough might open with squadrons equipped with unblockable cross screen lasers bisecting the arena. In a game where the player gains skill by failing forward, it’s hard to gauge how much of the game comes down to the skill of the player, or the luck of the enemy draw.

Graphically this game is delightful. The arena, player, and enemies are constantly shifting in hue, forcing the player to adapt to a new color scheme in a way that is both fair from a gameplay perspective, and interesting from a visual one. There were occasions where the color palette shifted in ways that made it more difficult to actually play the game, but overall the game is beautiful.

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Hope you’re not colorblind

Aside from a few minor annoyances, Pixel Galaxy checks all the boxes for a game in its space. The extra co-op functionality, colosseum mode, and (for the truly masochistic) boss rush mode give Pixel Galaxy significant longevity outside of the normal gameplay mode. Ultimately, Pixel Galaxy was a game that kicked my ass, and I loved every minute of it.

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Pixel Galaxy As lovable as it is difficult, Pixel Galaxy succeeds on the heels of great games that it draws inspiration from. Just make sure you chug an energy drink before jumping in.

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