Pixel Gladiator Review
Pixel Gladiator, an indie tower defense game by Deadly Pixels, is set in a distant future where brutal gladiatorial battles are the highest rated TV program in the entire universe. The player has been sent to an abandoned planet as one of the show's participants, with the goal of surviving as long as possible, while defending themselves and their base from dangerous alien creatures as billions of viewers watch for their entertainment.
Survival is Pixel Gladiator's main game mode, where the goal is to earn as much money as possible by defeating endless waves of enemies while also defending and upgrading the base until defeat, which happens when enemies destroy the reactor at the center.
In addition to survival mode, there are three different arenas to participate in: Desert, Air, and Underground. All three of these arenas consist of 10 waves of enemies and one boss, and each arena is different. In Arena I (Desert), there doesn't seem to be anything special -- but it's a useful stage to practice on if survival mode feels too overwhelming. Rocket Boots are recommended for Arena II (Air), with a base of three separate platforms that have to be jumped across and the introduction of flying enemies, while Arena III (Underground) features stronger enemies.
Between waves, the base can be upgraded with walls, turrets, and other weapons, which are necessary for the continued survival of the player. The player's held weapon can also be changed once enough money to purchase a new one has been obtained, although it takes a while to get the best weapons since players will find themselves focused on fixing and upgrading the bases defenses between the earlier waves.
Once the player gets past a number of waves, stronger enemies will start to appear. When the stronger enemies show up, players likely won't have enough money for better weapons yet -- so certain situations can be a real struggle if base defenses haven't been fixed or upgraded accordingly. The amount of money gained from killing enemies is increased on camera areas, so it's more beneficial to stay close to the center of the base even though you run a higher risk of bringing the enemies close to the reactor.
At first the gameplay can feel slow, but gets a bit faster after a few waves once the difficulty increases.
Survival isn't the best mode to start out on for new players -- and although the game is rather basic, it lacks any kind of tutorial. It's more beneficial for players to start with Arena I (Desert) first to familiarize themselves with weapons and upgrades and master thembefore trying their hand at Survival Mode. From there, after participating in a number if rounds of Survival Mode, players can try their luck at the more advanced Arena II (Air) and Arena III (Underground) stages. Once players have been able to complete all three arenas, Survival mode should be a breeze by comparison.
Although the gameplay is decent, Pixel Gladiator's other elements are rather weak. The art style and music don't stand out -- and although they aren't terrible, they don't do much to enhance the experience. The game also has no controller support at the moment, which isn't a glaring flaw due to the basic controls, but it would be nice if the game at least had the option.
Pixel Gladiator is currently in Early Access, so it's more than likely the game will improve over time -- but as of right now, the game hasn't reached its full potential. Players could get the same amount of satisfaction (or perhaps more) from a tower defense flash game they can play on their internet browser or phone for free.
If you do want to check it out, though, Pixel Gladiator is available on Steam for $4.99.
[Note: A copy of Deadly Pixels was provided by the developer for the purpose of this preview.]