I’ve gone on record again and again saying that I’m a fan of the Pixeljunk series. Q games have given me some truly unique and great games. This time though they’ve gone out of that realm and are making something much more akin to a DJ tool than a traditional game. At a closed meeting I got a chance to see it in action.
The developer from Q Games told us that they had really loved working with the local Tokyo artist Baiyon for the soundtrack of their game Pixeljunk Eden and had decided to work with him again. But this time they weren’t going to make a game as much as an experience with music. Baiyon then stepped out in his awkward way with a move in hand and the demo started up.
At first there was only a tiny circle on the screen. Baiyon then made a motion as though he was dragging something from his upper right into the TV and a beat started. The circle grew a bit and the colors changed. As one might expect the music was very similar to that in Eden with lots of cymbals and echoing droplets tossed in between beats of the bass but with a more upbeat pace than the music in Eden.
While the main beat went on Baiyon did other motions along with the music to add in other sounds. It seemed much more like a musical playground to experiment in than a game, as there were no notable goals. Some of the noises were similar to what the enemies in Eden made and were accompanied by the appearance of random shapes floating around the screen that looked very similar to those same enemies. Continuing the song Baiyon brought in other layers of beats which added to the size of the circle and the changing color scheme to an apparent maximum of three overlaid continuous beats.
After about a 20 minute performance by Baiyon which was admittedly really cool to listen to even if I spent the whole time trying to figure out how the thing worked the developers opened up for some questions. They described Lifelike as a kind of audio compass with the Move controller. Based on the button pressed as well as the direction and type of movement you make you can bring in different musical notes or noises and you can then tweak these noises by adjusting the move controller in 3D space.
The art style was designed by Baiyon himself and was described as a swarm of ever changing amoebas. This particular song was made using an instrument set that fit Baiyon’s taste but the full game would include a variety of different instrument sets. If you feel like your performance is worth sharing with the world you can broadcast it to PSN and anyone who cares to can listen in. Saving your songs for later listening was an idea they were still toying with.
You don’t have to limit yourself to just one Move controller though, you can play with two players I was told (I have absolutely no clue how that would work) or even just one player with two Move controllers. Luckily if you’re like me and this all sounds highly confusing and a bit scary to you (I’m really not that rhythmically inclined) the developers assured me that there will be some sort of tutorial or tips to help out beginners.
So yeah, it’s really weird. I left not really sure who this would sell to. Personally I’d prefer another game from Q-Games but that’s the kind of stuff I enjoy and I’m a bit of a selfish jerk. Regardless they seemed to put a lot of work into the title so I hope it finds its audience. If what I described sounds like your kind of thing Lifelike will release later this year, and maybe I’ll go check out your performance.