Nom Nom Galaxy is a game about soup production. No, no! Don’t leave! It’s good, I swear. It also features mining and landscaping, with a huge focus on automation and efficiency. Hmm, that isn’t really convincing, either.
Let me start over.
The PixelJunk series(?) has been a favorite of mine since I played PixelJunk Monsters for the first time back in 2007 (has it really been 7 years?). The sometimes-Playstation exclusive series developed by Q-Games presents a wildly different game with each release, and the line is a treasure trove of unique ideas and polished, enjoyable execution. Monsters was a stab at the Tower Defense genre, while some of the other games experimented with racers (PJ Racer), shoot-em-ups (PJ SideScroller), and a few others that can’t be accurately corralled into a specific genre (Eden, Shooter, 4am). Every release has been a damn fine one, and was always worth attention.
So it was with great anticipation that I followed what was then called PixelJunk Inc., Q-Games’ first straight-to-PC release that also circumnavigated any genre definition. Since renamed Nom Nom Galaxy, the newest game in the PixelJunk line puts you in control of a combination space explorer slash soup factory business founder, as s/he establishes a production facility on an alien planet. The game’s hero needs to gather resources, fight off local and edible wildlife, create the necessary equipment for soup production, and combine found ingredients to make the tastiest soups of all time.
The player’s company, SOUP Co., is in constant competition of MEGA-SOUP, Inc. Throughout your quest, MEGA-SOUP is fighting for control of the market, and the only way to fight back is produce tasty soups, and fast. The more you pump out production, the more you take over.
So how does the game actually play? The tutorial stage, while pretty bare at the moment, walks you through the basics of soup production. “Learn by doing” is the mentality present here, and though it’s confusing at first, after the basics are down it becomes hugely addicting. The possibilities for flavors open up and it filled me with a powerful wonder, salivating at the huge options I haven’t even begun to explore, yet. The planets that can be explored are mysterious and unique, this is a game tailored to the curious and the experimentalists in all of us.
The game initially looks like it takes strong cues from Terraria or Starbound, and that would be a fair comparison to a point, but the massive terraforming abilities and the focus on resource gathering set it apart from the more combat-focused counterparts. The days pass in timed cycles, and it can be stressful to run around, attempting to accomplish everything and make it back to the factory with precious new ingredients to try out, lest they be lost forever. Forethought and planning are necessary, and tools unlocked later on alleviate and expedite the mundane tasks, freeing you up to spend more time bashing in monsters and spelunking for ingredients.
After each day, an earnings report generates, and the player can unlock tools and structures to improve the factory. Storage tanks hold excess ingredients, robot workers create and ship out soup for you, missile towers defend your base, and vehicles allow you to carry more ingredients at a time. These tools are essential for the growth of your empire, and micromanagement ramps up at breakneck speeds.
Now, the game launched in Early Access, and the creators warned that production is far from finished. At time of writing some basic functions were missing, the most notable being the lack of a save system, in addition to whatever content that will be added later. One might think that the lack of saves would be a pretty big bummer, but starting my soup empire over never felt like that big of a drag, at least in my limited time with it so far. Each time I started over I had a better idea of how to lay things out, and my efficiency improved substantially. Hopefully then I’ll be ready when more proper features get implemented, because this game can get hard.
So far I’ve largely played on co-op mode(!). Having a partner sitting next to you to coordinate with and divide responsibilities is a huge bonus. Too many cooks don’t spoil the dish here, the co-owner helps grease the wheels of production and each player can tailor their role more specifically to how they want to play the game. Want to focus more on base building and defense? Great! Your partner can go explore and gather resources and ingredients. Letting out simultaneous double sighs of relief after a stressful day of production is a good feeling, and you’ll find yourself proud of the empire you’ve constructed together.
It’s all wrapped up in a pleasing to look at package. It’s too early to define a score and call it reviewed, but so far it’s a game I can say is worth your money and attention, both for the joy of it’s current state and the potential it holds. I have faith in the PixelJunk folks, for they’ve created a dish that’s smooth and goes down easy.
For more information, check out the official site, or find the page on Steam.