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PixelJunk Raiders review – space adventure carries too much baggage

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March 05, 2021 at 08:00AM

IK Multimedia's T-RackS 5

PC; Q-Games
Its mix of planetary scavenging, alien-hunting and funky artwork ought to be a smash, but sluggish mechanics and onerous mission demands diminish the fun

A space rescue adventure from Kyoto’s inimitable Q-Games, PixelJunk Raiders has the bones of a great action game. Its mix of planetary exploration, scavenging and alien-killing is unusual enough to make an impression; the art style, which lands somewhere between a 90s anime and the cover of an old science-fiction novel, is glorious; its planets are beautiful; the retro-futuristic vibe is refreshing and colourful. Unfortunately I just haven’t had any fun playing it.

Dropped on to a planet where you must rescue disappointingly static alien civilians from squid-like invaders who’ve taken over their citadels, the first thing to do is forage for weapons and blueprints for useful gadgets. Scanning the horizon for the telltale smoke-plume of a crashed ship, buildings or ruins leads to loot and currency – but if you die, as I often did, you lose it all. Several times I respawned on a planet stripped bare of resources; faced with the prospect of trying to pummel aliens to death with my bare fists to grind out enough currency to open a locked door, it was usually easier to just restart the whole mission.

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