Game That Tune

PixelJunk Eden

Savage Garden

There’s no time to stop and smell the roses in PixelJunk Eden’s nerve-wracking soundtrack.

By Derrick Sanskrit • June 6, 2013

Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).

People like to talk about gardening as though it were this incredibly serene pastime, something peaceful and relaxing. Those people have never knelt down in a hill of fire ants or torn their pants on a raspberry bush. Gardening is tension under the guise of nature’s simple beauty, a complicated idea that’s captured in Q Games’ PixelJunk Eden. The game is lush with intricate, bioluminescent landscapes, which would be delightful to explore at your leisure if not for the oppressive timer that forces players to work toward their next goal. And then, of course, there was Baiyon’s original soundtrack:

Sharing a great deal of sonic and compositional elements with ambient trance music, the Eden soundtrack feels like a vivid dream. Distortion and flangers give the sensation of being submerged in a sensory deprivation tank, while relentless beats and sharp percussive snaps keep things from ever becoming too comfortable. The level “Wheel Window,” in particular, throws players for a loop by having the entire stage’s gravity switch direction indiscriminately, and Baiyon’s music echoes this sensation of tense uncertainty. Human voices are cut off before they can actually say anything, leaving only the impression of life just outside your reach. Deep echoes create an illusion that whole parts of the world could fall into the abyss at any moment. There is a feeling that this whole world could be peaceful and relaxing, if only you had a few moments to breathe. Now get back to pollinating before it’s too late.

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8 Responses to “Savage Garden”

  1. CrabNaga says:

    I bought all the PixelJunk games on sale like a year ago. I could not for the life of me get into Eden. I didn’t mind the visuals or sound, but the gameplay just felt so tedious, and it seemed like you had to play each level 5 times to actually see everything in the level. It was a pretty big let-down after hearing people say how great of a game it was. Shooter and Sidescroller failed to disappoint, however.

    Was I just missing something special about Eden? Did I not get far enough into it to truly appreciate it? Or is it just a case of the game simply not being for me? I’m usually all about weird abstract art games.

    • I’m in the opposite camp, I suppose. Eden is my favorite of the series so far but I wasn’t wild about Sidescroller (Shooter 1 was pretty great, only played through half of the sequel). While I do wish it gave you the option of continuing after you find the first, second, third, and fourth spectra in each garden rather than make it five separate events, I generally like how this approach encourages players to explore the layout and specifics of each garden so that they can come back better prepared next time. The first garden where you can’t break pollen prowlers with your silk was a big game changer my first playthrough and things just get more aggressive from there.

    • Jeff Bandy says:

      It’s definitely much more of a deliberate, slow-burn type of game than the Shooter series (which are probably my favorite PixelJunk games). That being said, I absolutely loved Eden. Frustrating and euphoric in equal measure, and totally unforgiving when you fall to the bottom of the level and have to work your way back up. The beautiful colors and music went a long way towards holding my attention for long enough to see most of the game. Hearing this track again makes me want to revisit it… maybe on the PC this time around.

      Speaking of weird abstract art games — hey Gameological staff, how about an Art Style: Rotozoa Game That Tune post? Talk about a killer soundtrack. 

      • We just did bit Generations last week (the series that was eventually localized as Art Style) so that’s not likely anytime soon.

        That said, I love that whole series, particularly Box Life on DSi/3DS.

  2. PaganPoet says:

    It’s a bit too minimalist, even for me (and I’m a John Adams enthusiast). I dunno, I’ve always had a bit of disdain for ambient trance and electronic minimal music in general. At least with live minimalist music, it still requires a high level of attention and concentration. Then again, I’ve never seen something like this live, so maybe that could change my mind.

  3. mizerock says:

    One of those rare “totally different controls” games that winds up being more than just a proof of concept. A big part of that it the sounds, which magnify the feeling of euphoria when you pull off a big move, or (more often) the sense of panic as your time dwindles and you are trying desperately to reach that last goal.

    The was one of the games that came to mind for me when “Fantasia” was announced. Though I guess it’s not the music that changes based on your moves, just the soundscape that is created based on your interaction with the environment.

  4. Sue Donym says:

    Baiyon is a phenomenal dude. Check out his collaboration EP series, including the one with Nintendo alum Hip Tanaka.