Pixel Boy, a top-down shooter from independent studio Giant Box Games, is intent on mixing things up and bringing something new to the genre. From the get-go it’s obvious that you’ll be playing in a world not filled with deep characters and dramatic plot points, but one of light-heartedness and levity. You’re run through a tutorial of the game’s basic mechanics and then you’re set free to explore at your own pace. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, though, as most of the crafting aspects of the game weren’t fully explained and the NPCs were too busy making quips to help me along. I was overwhelmed at first by the amount of customization that Pixel Boy presents. Instead of being told explicitly, I was guided to figure out how to craft and upgrade armor out of necessity when I kept dying.
With each level-up you’ll be given four skill points to allocate to basic stats like Damage, Speed, Health, etc. Gaining these stats allows you to take on harder dungeons and collect more gold and armor orbs used to buy upgrades for your weapon and armor. This is the process the game revolves around and is lent variety with the crafting system. Using and combining different upgrades allows for effectively endless possibilities for you laser beam, which you’ll most definitely need as the difficulty scales very quickly from dungeon to dungeon.
It was hard for me to tell if the enemies were unfairly powerful or if I was just bad at the game. Many of the bug-like creatures you encounter will do a significant amount of damage in a short time, leading you to play very conservatively and make the best out of what little protection you have. You’ll run into a variety of different insectoids, such as the blue centipedes pictured below, that have the ability to knock you back so fast you’ll wonder where your socks went.
Pixel Boy is in the fortuitous position of being in alpha, meaning it’s far from being a finished product. Any problems the game may have (I ran into a fair amount of glitches in my time with it) can be patched and remedied by the developers before it releases in full. If you’re interested in picking it up you can pre-order it or vote for it on Steam Greenlight at Giant Box Game’s website.