Double Eleven has amassed quite a large fanbase over the years with their Pixeljunk titles that have unique art styles and addictive gameplay. Their latest adventure, in collaboration with Q-Games, was formerly known as Pixeljunk Inc but was later changed to Nom Nom Galaxy, a game where Soup rules all. The premise is pretty simple - build your very own soup factory from the ground up, all the way from a manual laboured one soup kitchen to a fully automated soup juggernaut that leaves all of your rivals in the dust. The game is a mix of sandbox exploration and adventure with some strategy and simulation plus a touch of resource management thrown in for good measure.
In Nom Nom Galaxy, you start off with nothing but your buzzsaw and your imagination. Starting with an office, you will begin to build your factory part by part. The building is relatively easy to understand, something of which the tutorials do a very good job. The tutorial will take you through all aspects of the building, which mostly involves corridors, zero gravity tunnels and conveyor belts. Another thing that you will learn is the duties of the many robots and how to pick ingredients, make soup and send it to the people. The downside is that the tutorial starts with a pre-made base and doesn't show you how to start one yourself.
There is only one objective - gain 100% of the Market Share. To do this you will need to start finding ingredients to create one of over 100 different recipes. Any ingredient can be combined with another, including two of the same kind. This is where some of the game's strategic elements come into place. You need to place any two ingredients into a Soup Machine, but once you have put those ingredients in then those ingredients are locked into that machine and the recipe for that soup becomes unlocked. There are 20 different ingredients and each one can be mixed together; if you do the maths then you can see that there is quite a lot to make and balance. The only restriction on what soup you can make, is what ingredients are available in each stage.
A checklist of all the recipes.
Each stage takes place on a different world, with the landscape and resources changing each time. The game does away with the usual suspect in exploration games - the pickaxe. In its place is the Buzzsaw, which consists of a giant saw blade on a string. It is a useful item for clearing large areas of land but it is a bit lacking when it comes to precision, something that can be quite important underground. It can be difficult to carefully mine an area when gravity also plays an important part in the world. If a part of ground is unsupported then it won't just stay floating in the air; all of that dirt will cave in on you. This is only a minor annoyance, one that can even kill you if you get trapped in it long enough, but shouldn't cause too much of an impact to your game. These issues combined are something that has caused a few unwanted cave-ins, destroyed a crop farm and even made an unfinished corridor collapse.
The rather plentiful matter can be mined from the ground and is used to purchase different machine and factory parts. On top of this you will earn gold from defeating certain enemies and for delivering soup, which you can use to buy robot helpers and shot cannon to ward off those pesky alien attacks. Combat is something that the game throws at you from time to time through two different ways. The first is an alien attack sent by a rival company to thwart your progress and destroy your base. This is where your cannons come into play and the game becomes a bit of a tower defense game. These pesky aliens can and will destroy your base, from corridors to soup machines, but while everything can be replaced your Office cannot. If the Office is destroyed then you must restart the level, so even if you are confident that your cannons will do the job, it is wise to keep an eye out for them.
The ground caving in on itself.
The other way is through food enemies such as a group of tomatoes or a horde of sausage dogs. These can be a great source of ingredients if you build your factory near to their spawn areas as each one will drop pieces of food upon death. There are at least eight types of these enemies, including a giant woolly Mammoth! None of them, bar the Mammoth, poses any real threat and mostly exist to add some extra variety and life to the ingredients. The Mammoth, on the other hand, means that you had better prepare for a fight.
To begin, Nom Nom Galaxy can be a little bit overwhelming but, after a few levels, most of the difficulty is reduced. This does make the levels feel a little repetitive since each level will have you starting over and repeating the same tasks that you just did in the previous four levels - build an office, buy machines, farm ingredients, ship soup, rinse and repeat. In each level you unlock new types of robot helpers and building parts, allowing you to experiment more and more and make crazier factories, but remember that each part uses power; the more that you build, the more generators that you will need.
Getting ready to battle the giant wooly mammoth.
Some levels do add an element of challenge, however, where you will encounter some handicaps, such as a world with limited resources. These handicaps force you to play the level strategically, which is a very welcoming way of playing the levels. Most of these tend to blend with the environment for that zone and it is where the monotony is removed. More of these types of handicaps would have been better, however. While each level provides its own unique thing, most don't do anything to add a challenge. As an example, "the world is mostly water" just meansthat you can build your base above the oceans and have a near unlimited supply of Strawberri-fish and sea plants.
The game also features several power-ups known as Galactic Gums; these can range from extra gold from enemies to invincibility for a short period of time. These are quite handy to have in some situations but are easily forgotten the rest of the time. Those invincibility ones will come in handy when fighting a Mammoth, however. You won't end up with 100 of each so it doesn't enable you to play the game in something akin to God Mode, it just gives you an occasional boost for a few minutes.
Robot helpers reporting for duty.
The way that Nom Nom Galaxy does progression is different to most games. Rather than progress through the game by beating all of the levels, you discover recipes to unlock new areas, weapons and vehicles. Each level in a zone is playable at any time, but only once you have discovered a certain amount of recipes can you move on to the next zone. This really pushes you to stop farming the same two ingredients and prevents you blasting through the game at lightning speed. Rather, it encourages you to experiment a little and try out new ways of doing things.
While Corporate Conquest is the main campaign of the game, once you beat a stage you can then play that same level in S.O.O.P (Strategic Operation and Optimization Program) Simulator to continue where you left off. This is where a lot of the fun can be had as you won't be competing against another rival here, just good old fashioned soup making fun. You can choose to start the world afresh or continue with your previous factory. This is great for sitting back and discovering all of those recipes while making your little soup factory into global juggernaut. You can also hold and together to enter photo mode where you can zoom out and take a screenshot of your builds to share with friends. The main downside to this mode is the lack of a map, something that means that you are likely to get lost a lot.
An example of an easy and efficient setup.
Galactic Challenges allow you to take your game even further with a variety of challenges to accept, from Race and Combat challenges to Delivery and Sales, with each one rewarding you one of four medals depending on your performances. These challenges are refreshed every few days and include both solo and co-op challenges. Online co-op is a great way for you and up to three friends to team up and build an empire; that is when it works. Whenever a new player joins or quits a game there is considerable lag before the game goes to a blank screen, making it seem like you have been kicked to the main menu. This can sometimes take several minutes and happens very frequently, which is a bit disappointing and very frustrating and something that happened as both host and guest. Luckily the game also supports up to four players in local co-op, so it is still possible to have an enjoyable time with friends.
There is a good variety of trophies and they encourage you to try out the full scope of the game with focus on the story, challenges (solo and co-op), online play, discovering recipes and some miscellaneous ones. There is not too much difficulty in gaining the trophies. While most are straight-forward, some will require an extra bit of time and patience, such as the challenges. Collecting Astro Pins will be what takes up most of your time as you grind away, these consist of tasks, such as "Swim 20,000 metres", and there are quite a lot of them (75 to be exact). Luckily, they can be tracked. There are some online trophies, so a co-op partner will need to be found. In total you are looking at a minimum of 50 hours to get the Platinum -- maybe more depending on those Astro Pins.
SummaryOverall Nom Nom Galaxy is a very enjoyable title. Players will lose themselves and time easily as they explore the area looking for new ingredients before building impressive fully-automated factories, not to mention discovering and unlocking all the recipes. The art style is what you would typically expect from a Pixeljunk title. The background art is fantastic and it really makes each level feel different. The soundtrack blends with the various levels well; in fact, it blends in so well that you rarely even notice it because of its natural feel. Together they create a fantastic atmosphere. Fans of the exploration and building genres should find this an enjoyable game, while others may find satisfaction in the strategy and resource management.
- Fantastic variety of recipes to create.
- Endless building possibilities.
- Lots of replay value.
- A great blend of several genres.
- Galactic challenges adds some fun variety.
- Lack of map.
- Poor online.
- No precision when mining.
EthicsThe reviewer spent 28 hours playing the game, earning 17 of the 32 available trophies. He is looking forward to playing more of the game and aims to gain the platinum trophy. This Playstation 4 copy was provided courtesy of the publisher.
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