A good brawler can be fun to play through despite being repetitive over time. There’s enough satisfaction in punching through groups of baddies as you progress from point A to point B to keep you wanting to play more. But there also needs to be something else to make that worth overcoming, whether it’s a good story or other gameplay elements that complement the core of the experience. PixelJunk Scrapper Deluxe on PlayStation 5 (also available on Nintendo Switch and PC) is a neat idea that mixes up the concept of a brawler but does so at the expense of missing out on aspects of the gameplay that could’ve been taken further. Although it’s a good game that can be fun, it just misses out on being great because of a few shortcomings.
PixelJunk Scrapper Deluxe puts you in the shoes of a robotic garbage man that roams the streets collecting garbage and beating down enemy robots. You go through each stage escorting a large garbage truck and tossing in various trash you pick up along the way. The more trash you pick up; the more money you make at the end of the stage. You can pick up random objects and enemies you defeat and earn cash by trashing them, which is key to advancing to new stages and unlocking extra goodies. It’s a fun twist on a brawler that makes things more interesting than simply going straight through a level you jump into. But the charm of this fresh take on the genre is held back by a few things.
Some of the biggest issues you run into involve rushing through stages to pick up enough trash to earn money, as well as chaotically fighting enemies that continuously annoy you. It can get difficult to pick up trash when enemies harass you at every chance they get, forcing you to deal with them before you get any trash. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that the garbage truck you escort begins to move forward when you least expect it. You might not have enough time to grab nearby trash because of this, especially if you waste your time fighting every enemy on screen. Sometimes the truck will advance forward even if you haven’t defeated every enemy that appears, forcing you to rush forward and make quick decisions on what to do before the stage ends.
In some cases, you can prolong the time you have by leaving at least one enemy around so you can evade and pick up trash. But one hit from them will cause you to drop everything you carry, even if you’re powered from an item you can grab that speeds up your movement. Later stages with tougher and better-equipped enemies make this much more difficult to avoid. You might have things under control and try to stack multiple items for a bonus when you trash them, only to get busted up by enemies that appear with faster attacks that deal more damage. You can only attack so fast yourself and will often get overwhelmed by enemies that gang up on you. While you don’t have to worry about getting knocked out constantly, the game lets you respawn multiple times, it does become incredibly annoying. The game has objectives for you to finish at each stage, and it can sometimes be very difficult to accomplish them when you’re constantly hindered.
But can this get easier to deal with as you play more of the game? Unfortunately, not as much as you might think. Scoring money from the trash you pick up can let you purchase new characters, weapons, and other mods for the garbage truck. But these upgrades are mostly cosmetic and won’t change your attributes, with the exception of weapons you purchase to have on hand at the start of a stage. Some weapons have faster attacks and more power, but you’ll have to complete stages over and over again to unlock new ones to purchase.
Some of them do help a bit when you obtain them, but you’ll still have the same problems to deal with when picking up trash in various stages. New characters you purchase don’t come with any perks or abilities to help you out, which almost defeats the purpose of having them as unlockables. They are glorified cosmetics that often cost way too much for no reason, much like any of the changes you can make to the garbage truck. If these had extra bonuses or abilities that came with them as you purchase them, it would justify their inclusion in the game significantly.
One extra thing that PixelJunk Scrapper Deluxe has is cooperative multiplayer, both online and offline with up to four players. But good luck trying to connect with people online if you don’t already have a pre-planned session in mind. You often won’t find others online to get matched with, even if you host a room for others to join. The other issue with the online mode is how the game automatically locks one slot off to friends you must give a six-digit room code to, rather than allowing all slots of the room to be open to anyone to join. Why online multiplayer was limited in this way is confusing, when it could’ve been easier to just have open slots for anyone to join a room when searching for others online.
There are the makings of a great game with PixelJunk Scrapper Deluxe. The concept is a neat take on the brawler genre that can be fun to play with others. But the areas where it stumbles hold back the experience from being a great recommendation for anyone who loves this style of game. And with the multiplayer mode being so limited online, it makes recommending PixelJunk Scrapper Deluxe a little harder. If a few updates could change up some of these things, then you’d have a far better game to try out here.
What do you think of PixelJunk Scrapper Deluxe? Are you a big fan of indie games on any platform? Let us know your thoughts about it in the comment section below!
PixelJunk Scrapper Deluxe
The concept of this game is an interesting take on the genre. Battling enemies in each stage can be fun at first, but can quickly become repetitive and frustrating later on. Most unlockables you get are mostly cosmetic and don’t really add to your ability to progress forward. Online multiplayer is often unplayable unless you plan beforehand, mostly due to poor matchmaking.
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