By: Jeff Cater
Q-Games has thrust forth a new installment in their well-known PixelJunk universe with Nom Nom Galaxy. In this unique view of capitalism and its somewhat shady undertakings, you are a bumbling employee of Soup Co — which prides itself in refining and shipping the galaxies tastiest Soup, and has the profit to prove it. Like any good capitalist venture, however, there is competition, and it is fierce.
Nom Nom Galaxy is immediately accessible due to its influence from titles like Terraria or Starbound. On a 2D plane, you will explore colorful alien worlds and harvest their resources, all while constructing a base of operations. Holding triangle will bring up your Build Menu, which is confusing and difficult to adjust to because of the sheer amount of tabs and sub-menus present. Explorative controls work well, but the jump mechanic feels a bit weak; it seems as though Soup Co doesn’t really invest into employee fitness or healthcare. Thanks, Space-Obama.
During your harvest, you will use the buzz-saw, which cuts in a radius around you depending on which direction you move your right stick. The saw is invaluable when it comes to harvesting materials and defending yourself, but you will likely find a shotgun or sword lying around somewhere, so the saw generally is restricted to resource gathering. The d-pad also lets you build a ladder above or beneath you, so you’ve got a built-in easy escape route if you’ve reached deep into the planet.
There’s quite a bit of alien terrain and great depths to explore, and it all features that trademark PixelJunk style that Q-Games is known for. What bugged me a bit about it, though, is that the main character, or actually any character for that matter, doesn’t really have a ton of animation frames. PixelJunk games are generally fluid and crisp, whereas Nom Nom Galaxy features jerky animation for its inhabitants. With such beautiful and colorful surroundings, you ultimately feel completely out of place.
But! The soundtrack is still of ultimate Q-Games quality, so the exploration element and the fast-paced Soup manufacturing race are toned accordingly and perfectly. The above mentioned buzz-saw also makes a satisfying grinding noise, and the chirpy robot assistants you have jarble and garble with you and one another playfully. It’s a pretty cool aural experience, as unique resources have different audio cues and complement the exploration well.
The soup business is rough, that’s for sure. On top of collecting resources to make soup, you also have to construct your production facilities. Dealing with the build menu can be clumsy — both at first, and even more so when under pressure later on when competition is heating up.
Ideally, you will construct a base with several launch pads to send soup to headquarters, have a defense network of turrets built to fight off rival corporations, a conveyor belt system of robot helpers and an underground garden full of ingredients you’ve picked from the surrounding area.
A lot of satisfaction comes from building an almost-automated facility, but it only comes after much stress due to the corporate war in your universe and the fumbly build menu in your hands. While there are many robot buddies that can help you micro-manage your facility, reaching that point is a micro-managing fest in and of itself. You only have so many “days” that can go by before the market settles, so the pressure is constant.
Once you beat a level, you can go back to it in a sandbox-type mode where you just build and explore to your heart’s content. Up to four players can run around and build a base, but it was nigh impossible for me to find anyone to match up with besides a friend on the couch with me.
Drawing a new player into it for couch co-op is an exercise in tutorial explanation (the tutorials are often vague and bare bones) and teaching them how to use the build menu effectively; and there goes the first hour.
At its core, Nom Nom Galaxy is a very fun experience, but it is held back by a discouraging menu system and a barren player base for multiplayer. If you ever dug deep into Terraria and were looking for something similar, Nom Nom Galaxy is definitely for you! But if you’re not the micro-managing type, it’d be a hard sell.