Have you always wanted to own some land and create your own farm? Pixels is an enchanting world of animated pixel characters and farms that has recently announced it will move over to the Ronin Blockchain. Boasting a total of over 900,000 players, this game is free to play, with aspects of multiplayer and single-player campaigns, including the ability to own your land and wear other NFTs as your character. Currently, the game is available through your favorite web browser, and players can create accounts using their email or wallets, lowering the barrier to access.
There is only a limited amount of lore available for Pixels, which is based around the main city called Terra Villa. The characters within this world can own land and farm on these lands. Resources gained from the land can be used to create items that can be sold.
The team behind Pixels features co-founders of Gamehouse, a game played by millions, as well as developers from giants such as Ubisoft. This sets an expectation of an in-depth game that will provide countless hours of entertainment.
When a player first loads into the game, they are on a small piece of land with an NPC called Barney who teaches you the basic principles of farming. This includes sowing popberry seeds, watering them, and even accelerating their growth using fertilizer. Once the first steps of the tutorial are completed, the player is teleported to the main city of Terra Villa. Here they will be greeted by Ranger Dale in the PLOT office, which is responsible for land ownership. Players can buy and rent land from other players in this location.
The tutorial continues by getting the player to explore the general store where players can buy most items necessary for the game. After this, the player is prompted to explore several different options for quests to continue playing the game. However, the player has to make sure they are actively reading the instructions from the NPC, as skipping this will leave them confused most of the time.
Once the player has completed the initial introduction quests, they can venture to the town hall and meet Mayor Dave, who can give them additional quests, or they can explore other land plots where they can participate in an activity called sharecropping. This allows them to farm and harvest using other land plots, but the landowner will get their fair share of the resources gained. This provides an incentive for players to own land themselves, as they can earn resources even while not actively playing.
The main core gameplay loop is gathering resources such as wood and popberries and then transforming these into different objects that can be sold for $berry or $pixels, depending on the item. Higher rarity land plots can yield rarer resources that are important for crafting objects later in the game.
From an aesthetic perspective, Pixels delivers a visually pleasing farming experience that is friendly to all. Although the sign-up process for the game is seamless, the introduction to the game past the initial tutorial with Barney lacks some simple implementations that could improve the overall player experience. An example of an improvement that could be made here is to give visual cues to the player as to where to go for their next objective.
When looking at the graphics of Pixels, this is really well done for a pixelated game, and the effects they have for different buildings and actions are smooth. In addition to this, players can wear partnered NFT collections as their character, which allows for variation in the game, and these are also well-implemented.
Analyzing the sound design of the game, this has also been well-implemented. Approaching different buildings starts to change the background music, as well as the sound effects that add to the player’s experience. The overall background music fits the game well; however, it does get a bit monotonous after listening to it for a while, especially considering how many hours the players will be inside the game if they want to complete all of the quests.
Coming to the most important part of this review, the gameplay. Overall, if you enjoy this genre of game, Pixels does a great job of having a gameplay loop that keeps the player active. However, one of the introduction quests takes a total of 6 hours to complete, which can be too much for most players in the casual gaming genre. Coupled with the lack of visual guidance in the introductory quests, this is the biggest letdown for Pixels. Although the whitepaper gives tips and tricks for people to complete the quests, finding out that the winery quest takes so long to complete made me stop playing.
The score given in the review derives from having a good first impression but falls down due to the lack of visual guidance in the introductory game loop. Their overall game loop is done well; however, it can become time-consuming and lackluster for players who enjoy more action-based games. On the other hand, there are plenty of functions and extra activities being built out in Pixels; this is likely to contribute to the player's experience and improve the game in the future.
The positive initial impression of Pixels is lowered due of the absence of visual guidance in the early game stages. While the core gameplay loop is solid, it may become monotonous and time-consuming for players who prefer action-oriented games. Nevertheless, the ongoing development of additional features and activities in Pixels holds promise for enhancing the player experience in the future.
Intricate pixel graphics
Well-executed sound design
Smooth onboarding process
Tutorial lacks visual cues
Introductory missions are overly time-consuming
Players lack clear guidance after completing the tutorial