‘Pixel Gear’ Review: Voxel Visuals Meet Bland Wave Shooter

by David Jagneaux • October 24th, 2016

When a new platform releases, there are certain types of games you expect to see. There is usually some type of racing game, as it’s a tried and true genre that fans will purchase immediately for a lack of options. In today’s market, you can also expect a few shooters. A handful of action games across a few different genres, a few simple puzzle games, and that gets the job done for the most part. After that launch week though the rest start to trickle out, such as Pixel Gear.

For a platform like PS VR that supports the PS Move motion controllers, a simple wave shooter was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, Pixel Gear lacks the creativity and originality to be anything other than a criminally short by-the-numbers adaptation of a tired trope.

As opposed to most games available on PS VR, Pixel Gear does not allow you to use the DualShock 4 controller in place of a PS Move controller. This is one of the few games that requires the use of Sony’s peripheral, no matter who you are.

The entire game is played with a single Move controller held upright in your hand, similar to holding the grip on a handgun. There is a decent variety of weapons, including a laser pistol with unlimited ammo, machine guns, rocket launchers, and more. Ultimately though, I found that the basic pistol was the most accurate, reliable, and easy to use. And I didn’t have to worry about ammo at all.

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Each of the three levels take place on a single static map with a variety of waves. After killing every enemy in a wave, you have a short rest that lets you choose upgrades — such as expanded ammo, more guns, etc. — and then you’re tossed back into the fray.

To put things into perspective: Pixel Gear literally has just those three stages. While each level contains about a half dozen or so waves, you can complete each stage completely in roughly 20 or so minutes. In total, that means the entire game is only about an hour long. Other than replaying levels for trophies and a higher score, that’s about it. There aren’t any special training courses, multiplayer modes, or endless levels. It’s about as bare bones as it gets. A small wrinkle of fun is introduced when you get the power to slow down time, but I often forgot the power existed because I never needed it.

We originally previewed Pixel Gear a little while back, it turns out we were seeing what the entire game had in store already. Some DLC and a potential coop mode are on the agenda at some point, but those are things that should have been included when it launched, not after the fact. What you’re presented with is barely enough content to package together into a game — if it were at least compelling, that would provide a worthwhile reason to play, but alas, that’s not the case here.

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After the first level, you’ve mostly seen everything this game has to offer. The enemy variety is decent visually, but they’re all incredibly slow moving. Only a few have projectile attacks or fly in the air, meaning the majority of the zombies and other slow-moving troops pose little to no real threat.

Visually its charming and evokes a very Minecraft-esque style that will surely appeal to fans of that game, but don’t let it fool you. Textures are flat, colors are bland, and there is absolutely no voxel-based building, creation, or exploration here. You stand in one spot, unmoving, and face enemies that are all funneled directly down towards you in a single 180-degree funnel. Whereas games like The Brookhaven Experiment surround you with enemies, in addition to a ton of other content and game modes, or Until Dawn: Rush of Blood’s engaging narrative and horrifying undertones, Pixel Gear lacks any distinguishing features.

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Final Score: 3/10 – Bad

To be clear, if you’re dying for a wave shooter, then Pixel Gear is technically that and it does function properly. However, beyond that, there isn’t much worth mentioning. You’ll finish the game in about an hour with nothing left to do. The (only three!) levels are uninspired, the enemies are simple, and the content provides little more than a tired excuse to point your hand at your TV screen.

Pixel Gear is now available on PlayStation VR for $10.99. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.

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  • Andy

    While I love your posts, I feel I have to disagree on this one. For the price point it’s a nice and fun shooter. It does indeed lack somewhat in content, but what it does offer, is surely fun. Especially when you play the different difficulty levels, this rapidly becomes a quite hectic shooter. I personally like that there are some cheaper, shorter but no less fun and replayable titles like Pixel Gear. Just my 2 cents.