App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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As a role playing game (RPG), Pixelot is a slow burn. It starts with a cliché exposition and a very conventional design wrapped up in pretty simplistic presentation. Just as you think it’ll be some really half-assed game you can beat in a couple hours though, the game explodes with possibilities. If you have a little patience, Pixelot is a fantastic and original mobile RPG that you should totally play.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Pixelot stars a hero tasked with stopping dark forces from sweeping over the land. In your adventure, you wander across a vast world, battle enemies through random encounters, gather party members, visit towns, and enter dungeons with big, bad bosses at the end of them.
In a lot of ways, Pixelot is a very typical RPG, though a lot has been done to adapt it for mobile play. It has a pretty basic pixel-art visual style, a simple virtual d-pad and single button control scheme, battles that are generally fast-paced, and the game auto-saves almost constantly. Pixelot’s story also moves at a lightning quick pace, leaving little room for character development and keeping things focused on directing you toward your next objective.
Gotta catch 'em all
Pixelot’s streamlined design can make it feel like a somewhat dumbed down experience, but in a lot of ways it’s also quite convenient for mobile play. The more you play it, the more you can see that a lot of its design choices seem directly inspired by Pokémon, though this game is also careful to avoid the sloggier aspects of those titles. For example, random encounters in Pixelot only take place when walking over certain terrain (e.g. tall grass) just like Pokémon games, but this game doesn't make you worry about having to heal up between battles. All your heroes get all topped up after each and every fight, leaving you to always push things forward.
Perhaps the most interesting way Pixelot takes inspiration from Pokémon through its party system. Much like a typical RPG, your quest has you cross paths with allies who want to join your adventure, but many of them you won’t even see unless you explore outside of the game’s critical path. You might wander down an alternate path of a dungeon and find someone who wants to join you, or you may encounter heroes who are mercenaries that want you to pay to have them come along with you. None of these characters are essential for completing the game, but collecting them and mixing and matching them into your ideal four-person party is a big part of what makes Pixelot compelling.
Pixelot’s surprisingly varied cast isn’t just fun to discover; each character is also fun to use. The combat in this game is a pretty standard menu-driven affair, but every ally fills a unique niche for your team through their various abilities. An additional fun wrinkle that Pixelot adds to its combat is a combo system, where using the same ability in succession changes its effects. Unfortunately, you don’t have to think much (if at all) about how to use this to your full advantage early on in the game. If you invest enough time in Pixelot to get into the late-game though, it is both challenging and extremely satisfying to figure out how to best outfit and use a team and their combos to win fights.
Time investment really is the only key to enjoying Pixelot. Once you pass the game’s first dungeon, everything you do starts paying off. The dungeons get much more interesting in terms of puzzle design, and every corner of them has their own rewards, whether they be new allies or gear. There’s no real dead ends, aimless wandering, or endless grind to worry about. Just a satisfying RPG that’s super easy to play on-the-go.
The bottom line
By the time I finished Pixelot, I was not done with it. There were characters I still wanted to level up, and even allies I hadn’t quite gotten to join my party yet. Thankfully, Pixelot provides a challenge dungeon after you’ve completed it and promises more of its main story down the road. This is great news because it seems that the futher you get into Pixelot and the harder it gets, the better it gets. If you can push through the early parts where Pixelot feels like any old run-of-the-mill RPG, there’s a lot of satisfying depth to dig into here.