Nom Nom Galaxy

Nom Nom Galaxy is work. It's a game that I admired in theory yet dreaded when it actually came time to play it. It's is the latest in the Pixel Junk series; and I've heard Nom Nom Galaxy compared to games like Terraria and Minecraft and I admit that neither of the two aforementioned games, nor the Pixel Junk brand mean anything to me. But, there was something novel about going into this game completely blind. Without having any game template to compare this to, this style of game actually felt fresh and exciting to me. However, even though I appreciate what Nom Nom Galaxy is trying to do, I couldn't help but feel plagued with boredom as I slogged through planet after planet constructing soup factory after soup factory in my attempts to appease my corporate overlords.

Even though I could only manage to play about one or two levels per session before a wave of tedium gently washed over me, there are some things to enjoy in Nom Nom Galaxy. Despite the game feeling like soul crushing work, the actual gameplay mechanics are somewhat interesting and well executed. Each level in Nom Nom Galaxy has you foraging for resources, building a soup factory, combining said resources to make soup, and shipping said soup to the masses; also, there's also some light combat (more on that later). The core gameplay has a strangely addicting quality, but any enjoyment one could derive from it is weighed down by the games built-in time restraints.

After spending roughly forty-five minutes on a level, I paused, took a few seconds, and marveled at the sprawling, labyrinthine soup factory I had created from scratch. There were girders, conveyer belts, turrets, what seemed like miles of corridors, soup machines, soup rockets, and plenty of other small minutiae that formed my soup dispensing behemoth. But those few seconds were wasted time as in order to beat the rival soup company, you have to move at an exhausting clip. The resources to make your soups also get further and further away from your base of operations as you drain your supplies. There are also random hostile invasions from aliens who will destroy your factory if your turrets don't do their job. As simple as the core game is, (make soup, export soup) there are a lot of factors in this game which can frankly, be a tad overwhelming.

In Nom Nom Galaxy's second tutorial stage, the game shows a glimpse of what an automated, self-sustaining  factory could look like. Sadly, setting up a factory with harvesting robots, conveyor belts, and loader bots in all the right places and actually getting your materials to go where you want can be an exercise in futility. Additionally, the fact that the somewhat strict time limit can effectively discourage you from experimenting with setting up such a system, warrants that your visions of a grandiose industrial complexes will probably have to be substantially scaled back.

Two facets of Nom Nom Galaxy's makeup that I did find myself enjoying were the minimalist sound design and story. The music is a quirky blend of electronica, ambient, mechanical sounding goodness. This is a huge plus as the music kept me nice and relaxed despite wrestling with the tedious nature of the game itself. The story takes a fairly hands off approach to its narrative and only has brief mission briefings before each level. The main conflict boils down to two rival soup companies vying for the most market shares. It's basically capitalism with soup. Also, the humor (while sparse) hits the right notes.

There is some light combat in this game which basically comes down to mashing one button, but this can also lead to frustration given some of the enemy behaviors. My main gripe with the combat comes into play when you're tasked with harvesting the local wildlife. Going into a den of Tomaties or Corn Bugs with your fists and a prayer will lead to a brutal mauling. I usually found myself button mashing my way out and trying to pick up the resources without getting them knocked from my grasp by the angry fauna. You can use your trusty saw on enemies, however, the saw is primarily used to plow your way through the earth. There are weapons, but they're not unlocked until much later in the game... and this brings me to another issue.

Nom Nom Galaxy is a surprisingly lengthy game. There are a myriad of planets to assume soup dominance over. Some stages took me only fifteen to twenty minutes, where others stretched well over an hour. The more time intensive levels drag on because you can find yourself in a stalemate with the rival soup company where you're both sitting at fifty percent market share with neither side really making any headway. I suppose it also deserves to be said that there is also an online component to this game where you can play with friends or random folks, but I wouldn't know if it actually works or not as I could never find an online match.

There are things to like in Nom Nom Galaxy but they're buried in a mire of tedious gameplay that feels more like doing chores than actually having fun. But maybe that's not fair. I respect this game for what it's trying to do and at times, when the stars aligned and my factory was functioning as envisioned, it almost had a calming, zen like quality. I had a similar issue with littlebigplanet when it first came out. I appreciated what it was trying to do, and it delivered on its vision, but it just wasn't for me. Nom Nom Galaxy is a functional game with good art direction, sound, and story; however, I found that I was forcing myself through each level without really being engaged in the process. I do have a strong urge to go make some soup though.