First PixelJunk 1-4 Details, Hands On Impressions

The fourth game in the PixelJunk series doesn't have a name yet. That's going to be up to you, as Q-Games is letting its fans decide exactly what we'll call... whatever PixelJunk 1-4 is.

So what is PixelJunk 1-4? Well, it follows in the tradition of previous PixelJunk games for the PlayStation 3, with 1080p resolution visuals running at 60 frames per second in two glorious dimensions. The fourth PixelJunk game, not unlike Eden, is about exploration, as you'll pilot a small subterranean craft searching for survivors in cave-like environments outfitted only with a thruster, rock blaster, and grappling hook, one used to pluck unlucky cave dwellers from their unfortunate situations.

You'll blast through rock and battle underground enemy lifeforms, not the most worrisome of obstacles facing the player in PixelJunk 1-4. The deadliest foe in Q-Games' latest is the lava.

PixelJunk 1-4's gameplay highlight is its spectacular fluid dynamics. With jets of magma spewing forth from volcanoes and precariously placed in pools cradled in loose rock, you'll need to be mindful of the game's "Heat" meter. Simply put, if your vessel gets too hot by venturing too closely to lava, you'll explode. That means direct contact with the freely flowing molten liquid results in instant death.

The other fluid that you'll find below ground is water. It not only cools your ship—simply take a dip when things get too toasty—it will turn flowing lava into rock when the two fluids interact. This can help protect survivors and your vehicle, as well as form new rock formations.

You'll be able to force water and lava to interact by destroying the rock that keeps those liquids in check. Your ship's blaster is powerful, removing earth and eliminating enemies with ease.

Players won't have to rely on just gravity and rock formations to direct the flow of cooling water. There will be giant spongy spores that can soak up and release their contents when hung from the subterranean vehicle's grappling hook. On some levels, spheres filled with water can be lobbed with the grappling hook into lava flows, but those reserves are limited.

So PixelJunk 1-4 is part fluid management game, part rescue scenario. It smacks of old school shooters like Asteroids, Defender and Choplifter, but has a more casual, puzzle-solving feel about it. Control is breezy and very similar to Asteroids with it's point and thrust controls.

Q-Games appears to have done what it does best with 1-4, tapping into a blend of retro-gameplay styles that manages to provide a more laid back thrill. The controls are spot-on, based on our sprint through a handful of the game's demo levels, with the shoot-and-save action kept at comfortable levels of intensity. Levels feel exploratory, but well-contained in their scope, easy to get lost in, but also easy to navigate. I expect hours, in PixelJunk 1-4, will feel like minutes.

Visually, as you can see in the game's first screen shots, the style is a little more earthy than Q-Games most recent effort, more on par with PixelJunk Monsters in tone, but with a style unique to the series. On the audio front, the independent developer has tapped techno pioneer Alex Paterson of The Orb and his spin-off musical project High Frequency Bandwidth to score the game. Q founder Dylan Cuthbert says the soundtrack will be a hip-hop techno affair, layered like a film score.

So what does that sound like to you? PixelJunk what? Q-Games is currently taking your suggestions with the PixelJunk 1-4 naming contest, if you're feeling inspired.

PixelJunk 1-4 arrives on the PlayStation Network this Summer. Pass the time with first screen shots.

First PixelJunk 1-4 Details, Hands On Impressions

First PixelJunk 1-4 Details, Hands On Impressions

First PixelJunk 1-4 Details, Hands On Impressions

First PixelJunk 1-4 Details, Hands On Impressions

First PixelJunk 1-4 Details, Hands On Impressions