Review: Pixel Gear (PSVR)

If Minecraft Were an Awesome VR Shooting Gallery

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Developer: Geronimo Interactive
Publisher: Oasis Games
Platform: PlayStation 4 (PSVR)
Genre: Gallery Shooter
Rating: E
Price:
$10.99
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When I first picked up my PlayStation VR on launch day, I wasn’t sure what the upcoming lineup was. All of the major companies tried to do shooting galleries and sports games last generation, so I figured some of that would make its way over to the PlayStation VR. Not even a week after the platform launched, we’re able to jump into Pixel Gear, a first-person shooting gallery with a Minecraft-esque aesthetic. After seeing screenshots, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Now I’m happy to report this little gem could be one of PlayStation VR’s better launch-window titles.

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Content Guide

Spiritual Content
You’re fighting off hordes of cutesy skeletons, zombies, wizards, and more. There are also the spirits of ghosts and angels. Beyond that, there’s no real spiritual element.
Violence
No graphic violence. You’re using your PlayStation Move controller as a gun to shoot things, but there’s no gore, viscera, or blood. It’s just a good ol’ family-friendly shooting gallery game.

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Language/Crude Humor
None to speak of
Sexual Themes
Not even remotely relevant here
Positive Themes
This is good, old arcade fun. It’s a family-friendly good time with no negative content to detract from it.

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Review

Needed Gear: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR headset, 1 PlayStation Move controller, PS Camera
Publisher Oasis Games has been on fire with the release of the PlayStation VR. Upon the hardware’s launch, they had two titles in the chamber (Ace Banana and DYING: Reborn) and within a week had Pixel Gear and Weeping Doll. Pixel Gear‘s charming aesthetic immediately drew me in, but the prospect of a solid shooting gallery game to test out my new hardware drew me in. I’m glad I gave it a chance. It’s turned out to be one of my favorite experiences in the virtual world so far. 
Pixel Gear is, at its core, an arcade shooting gallery. After choosing a stage, the player is dropped into a location, pistol in hand. From that point on, it’s up to you to fend off waves of baddies that include everything from skeletons and bats to beefy zombies with rocket launchers, knights with tower shields, wizards, and more. As a reward, after a handful of waves, you’ll get to fight a massive, towering boss.

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The mechanism itself is pretty simple. You’ll use a single Motion controller as your gun, then point and shoot. As you play, you’ll have to be mindful of a wide swath of land in front of you. That means if you only concentrate on what’s ahead, enemies can quickly come in from the left or right and put you down. Many are capable of firing projectiles at you (though, if you’re quick on the draw, you can shoot them out of the air). Its a good pace that keeps things engaging and on-the-move without creating the feeling of being overwhelmed. You can utilize the environment for destruction as well, popping shots into exploding barrels to take out foes, for example. The gunplay in the game feels great; headshots  have an undeniable satisfaction and nailing long-shots feels fantastic. The action’s pacing also feels wonderful and, I believe, even more exhilarating at harder difficulties.
Some ghosts carry helpful items (coins, ammunition, etc). Taking them out can net you some goodies, making you ever more lethal. Between waves you can purchase ammunition, new guns, and various power-ups to aid your quest. There are a total of four you can get throughout the game: a pistol with a laser sight, an automatic rifle, a grenade launcher, and a sniper rifle. It’s nice to see them consider some options for you, even if they’re limited. As you play, you can also build up and use a special ability that will slow down time and grant your assault rifle unlimited ammunition. It’s a great effect and can get you out of some seriously sticky situations.

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My one real complaint with the game is its brevity. The game only has three stages! I get it—Pixel Gear is a budget game ($10.99) but by including only three stages at launch, it feels quite brief. I’ve really enjoyed my time on those three stages but you’ll have consumed everything all too quickly.
The lack of narrative is a minor quibble but one I would’ve enjoyed seeing some effort put into. The game’s boxart shows a couple of stylish characters with headsets on, firearms at the ready. It would have been a nice touch to have some kitschy tale with dialog along the way, though I understand time and budget limit what teams can do. Perhaps Geronimo Games can rectify that in a more fleshed-out sequel one day.

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With VR being a relatively new in-home experience, everyone’s going to want to know about the look and feel. The game features a vibrant voxel style that keeps it kid-friendly and engaging. Beware: if you don’t like Minecraft‘s visual style, you’ll probably want to avoid Pixel Gear. That said, once you’re in the world with the helmet on, it’s even more enchanting. It’s really cool to see creatures moving around in what genuinely feels like 3-D space, with giant bosses lurching out for near-misses and hurling fireballs at you. It’s really cool and, as I’ve mentioned, still manages to stay completely kid-friendly (for 12 or younger, let them watch on TV. VR is not recommended for youngsters!). The gunshots and creature sounds fit the theme perfectly and the music is pretty catchy too. 
If you own a PlayStation VR (and Move controller) or plan to pick one up in the near future, Pixel Gear is absolutely a title you should snag. The gameplay is engaging and the art design is downright enchanting. Monster design is fun, offering a decent variety, and the boss monsters are larger than life. The game is pretty short with only three stages, but at $10.99, it’s reasonably priced, highly replayable, and downright fun.
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Review product provided by ONE PR Studio

The Bottom Line

If you own a PlayStation VR, you need to own Pixel Gear. While it lacks some of the richer features of a full-blown game like Eve: Valkyrie, it makes excellent use of the Move controller to give you a fun, vibrant shooter experience you'll want to share with your friends.

 

7.5

Joe Morgan

Gamer, software developer, dog lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace or CrossConsoleGamers, you can find him streaming at Twitch.tv/JoeKnowethGames

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