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19th December 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
Working to its advantage by encouraging swift shifts in perception, PIX3D is driven by a theme of manipulation, excised through means that, while appearing confusing at first, are actually quite simple. Each puzzle features a contained explosion of pixels arranged in strategic formation, where lining them up just right will reveal the picture previewed in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Offering the best method of space navigation is the stylus, with drags carried out on the Touch Screen producing rotation effects on all pixels simultaneously.
By identifying with colours indicated in the preview, one can connect the position of one or a group of pixels (which, by what the player can see, are floating in space) and identify relationships in their mind. Objects and images are surrounded by a black outline, so that helps provide the border you need to picture mentally how to put the pixels back together. Also, the direction from which the pixels rush in at the start of a puzzle can provide a valuable clue on where to direct your swipes of the stylus, which will sometimes mean moving oppositely. Puzzle packs are created to tie in themes of mythology, culture, food, and topics such as these. The final puzzle is what you might call a boss stage, with the image being divided into multiple segments that, when put together, make up the whole.
To be sure, PIX3D is a curious little game, calling to mind other concepts such as the ever-engaging Picross, as well as the general idea of optical illusions that must be viewed at a certain angle. But to point back to my introduction, there's one intrinsic flaw here that dissolves what initially appears abstract into something trivial. Some of what I just mentioned is involved in the matter -- namely, how there are two active clues that remain a constant in every puzzle. Once you get a rhythm going, it'll be common for you to complete puzzles in around three seconds, if not less. And in a spirit of ongoing defeat, to see things repeatedly come together so easily with little taxation on the part of the player and the resulting immediacy with which puzzles are regularly cleared, both factors end up shaping the game for the worse.
It's a very eye-opening situation, one that shows that the deciphering of these arrangements is hardly imaginative in that it rapidly moves into an autonomous space. In the initial form, there is a gratifying spark that you won't find until much, much later in more complex puzzle games. But I think in reflecting on this, the delay would be preferred in the long run, since it won't mean that the bubble of the core principle at work would burst. For this game to do so, and so quickly, extinguishes fun factor that might be derived from rapid-fire puzzle completion. And in many respects, it's a sign of a failed execution.
Even though the game feels robotic in its attempt to addict through this type of succession, PIX3D's uncomplicated setup and lack of flustering presentation elements assist in creating a feeling of ease for players to grasp the concept and control system quickly. That being said, you might say this is to the game's downfall since it ultimately means that the gameplay takes on an even more transparent form. While 3D use is meaningless here, the game's tunes perfectly sound like they were lifted from an arcade machine, which in some ways links to the overall digitization of the objects as per the concept. One thing I dislike is the presence of framerate drops, but in my experience I only encountered this on relatively rare occasions.
Upon completion of 250 standard puzzles, Extreme Mode will open up, adding artificial challenge by reversing controls, dimming the screen's brightness, and using text to distract you from accomplishing your task, all while a countdown clock winds down. There's also a Create option for custom levels, but I can't picture this getting used quite a bit.
You might like to believe it's entirely possible to be a good sport about PIX3D's gameplay and remain unfazed, still caring about the concept's delivery. But not only is PIX3D unprogressive, you'll be hard-pressed to develop a love for what truthfully is an unsatisfying exploration of an otherwise interesting play style. The only exception I could possibly see is in the case of a child who isn't yet accustomed to the comprehensiveness of other, visual puzzle games. But even then, PIX3D hardly portrays a compelling portrait to be lastingly drawn in by. In the overall evaluation, the easily-attainable solution to the twist ends up being substantially responsible for the lack of effect in making headway. And to think that gaining understanding could defile the entire system... I'm sure there's a lesson to be extracted from all this.
16/30 - Below Average
Gameplay 4/10 - Confusing at first but easy to pick up on, trivial design, transparency created as you repeatedly replicate the technique to the twist
Presentation 6/10 - Uncomplicated and friendly to engage with, good choices in the way of audio, meaningless 3D, framerate slowdown in places
Enjoyment 2/5 - Swift succession of puzzles doesn't produce the desired effect of addiction, initial spark dies, no progression, unsatisfying results
Extra Content 4/5 - Wide selection of puzzles that range in subject matter, Extreme Mode artificially affects gameplay, can create custom puzzles
Equivalent to a score of 53% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System