Demo Notes

After the extatic notes on the MTV Multiplayer blog about Siren: Blood Curse, I decided to boot up the shiny black obelisk and download the demo. While I was in the store browsing the virtual isles, I also grabbed the Pixeljunk Eden demo. I’ll get back to that one.

As a big big fan of survival horror games, I was really jazzed about a new good survival horror game that flew under my radar. I even thought Rule of Rose was pretty good, so you’ll see my standards for the genre are pretty loose.

But the demo was so plagued with problems that even I was turned off. The controls were extremely loose, which in a sneaking game is not particularly useful. The character takes up a huge part of the screen and is always in your way. It reminded me of the camera angle in Skate, except in that game the focus needed only be on your feet and upcoming obstacles. The world was sufficiently bright in that game that visibility was never too big of a problem. The demo was over in about fifteen minutes. In a twelve chapter game, you would think they could have shown me a whole chapter, maybe ending on a cliffhanger? No. The demo ends with me walking down a tunnel.

In the reviews, people keep mentioning the “sight-jacking” feature. If that was in the demo, it was never called out. Finally, the demo wasn’t scary. It wasn’t even tense. Don’t you want to highlight your key experiences in your demo? Sell me the game! You have my attention.

Clearly, I’m missing something as it’s scoring particularly high on Metacritic. If it was any other genre, I’d quit there. But I’m really jonesing for some survival horror action, so I plan on finding out if the rest of the game is like that crummy demo.

Now I had zero expectations for Pixeljunk Eden. The other Pixeljunk games didn’t even strike my fancy enough to download a demo, so I’m not entirely sure what drove me to try this one. After some frustrating false starts, (Why not have seperate jump and swing buttons? I keep doing the wrong one.) I really hit my stride. Not only is the game absolutely beautiful in screens and in motion, but the exploration mechanics get to be a lot of fun the higher you go in each garden. Even the beautiful world map plays like the rest of the game. It’s not just a game that looks pretty and has no substance. And contrasting with the Siren demo, I played for about an hour and a half and still had items to enjoy when I switched it off.

That’s how you do a demo.

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