Nom Nom Galaxy

From Monsters to Shooter, I have been a big fan of Q-Games’ PixelJunk series since 2007. With each game they release the developers take on a different genre, always keeping things fresh. Even though their titles have varied greatly, there’s always something uniquely “PixelJunk” about each of them. The artwork, writing and soundtracks are always meticulously crafted in a way that fits together perfectly and sets a unique tone for each game. I’m happy to let you know that despite of a few missteps, Nom Nom Galaxy is another worthy addition to the PixelJunk series.

In the game you have been sent to a foreign planet with one mission – build a factory piece by piece and harvest the local flora and fauna for the purposes of making soup. You read that right. The objective of the game is to make soup! It turns out that the entire galaxy is obsessed with the stuff. It’s an adorably silly premise that justifies why you mix and match ingredients, on a quest to create every recipe possible. The way it works is that you search each planet’s environment for its plants and animals. Once you’ve punched them to death, you can pick the ingredients up and carry them back to your base where you mix two of any ingredient in a soup mixer to create all sorts of different flavors. Often times you will see a news bulletin that gives you insight on what is going on in the soup market. These essentially read as “People are loving tomato soup!” or “Blue capped mushrooms are making people sick”, which lets you know what kinds of ingredients/soup to produce (or not) if you want a boost in market share (You need 100% to beat each level).

Of course, what makes Nom Nom Galaxy special is how it effortlessly blends genres such as exploration, base building and even a bit of tower defense. After all, you have gotta protect your factory from the vicious attacks of the rival soup corporation! These elements mix together surprisingly well for the most part. Really, the biggest obstacle is that there’s a pretty steep learning curve and the tutorials leave something to be desired. I found myself unsure about how certain droids and gadgets worked, which led to many wasted resources as I tried them out later on. At first I was very hands-on with everything that happened in my factory. I would farm ingredients by hand and bring them to the soup mixers manually. By the third or fourth level, it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to keep this up if I wanted to succeed.

As you progress, the environments become more harsh and your enemies increasingly more aggressive. With that comes the necessity to automate, and in order to do that you really need to understand how all of the machines in your store work. For example, there are robots that will consistently travel along a horizontal path, picking up any ingredients or soup barrels they come across, and walking back and forth until they either find a machine to put it in or another robot that will pass it up or down. This means that you need to study the ingredients that surround your base and put quite a bit of thought into how you construct your hallways. There’s a real sense of pride you feel once everything is up and running and you can see that most of your soup making operations are happening on their own. Properly building your base near renewable ingredients that lend themselves to the way you construct your base can mean the difference between taking a half hour and several hours to complete a level. That kind of depth is pretty amazing for such a deceivingly cute game.

If you’d rather take your time without worrying about hitting 100% market share before your enemy, you can load up any level in sandbox mode. This lets you really explore your surroundings and let you experiment without all the stress of the main game. Additionally, there are community challenges that are updated regularly. They all have the option of co-op and have a nice amount of variety, including racing, timed destruction and having to create specific soups. If you’re the competitive type, there are leaderboards for each challenge, so get in there!

As a big fan of Q-Games’ previous work, PixelJunk Eden in particular. I have to say that I was impressed by Nom Nom Galaxy. This is such an ambitious project with so many variables and for the most part it all came together beautifully. I may have a few gripes with clunky jumping controls and a weak tutorial, but once you get past that (and you will), there is a really solid game here. The soundtrack is wonderfully chill and something that I will be listening to regularly while I work from now on. The colors of the environments really pop and are a treat to look at, which is good since some levels take quite a bit of time to complete.

The bottom line: If you’re in the market for a silly game that is fresh, unique and deeply satisfying, you need to check out Nom Nom Galaxy.

 

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