Review: Nom Nom Galaxy
The first time I played Nom Nom Galaxy, it was actually titled PixelJunk Inc.. Chris and I saw it at PAX a few years back and, being fervent Q Games fans, sat for an hour to see what it was all about. We immediately likened it to Terraria, the 2D Minecraft-like sandbox game for PS3 and Vita. That was high praise, too, because we were both on a Terraria kick at the time. We didn’t get the full scope of the game, but we knew it was in good hands with the PixelJunk crew. Fast forward a few years and we now have Nom Nom Galaxy, ported to the PS4 by Double Eleven, a company with an impressive rap sheet that includes several PixelJunk games. My time with NNG has been a rollercoaster ride, to use a tired metaphor. The ups and downs have left me feeling positive, overall, if a tinge nauseous when I stop to think about it.
A few weeks ago, Chris and I logged on with excitement to finally play NNG on our favorite console. We were met with a two-stage tutorial that made excessive use of text boxes to convey how to play. Not a great first impression. I forgave the game, to an extent, because it did seem a bit complex at the outset. A half hour or so later and we were finally playing. We made many rookie mistakes, but it was fun to explore and discover new soup recipes. You see, Nom Nom Galaxy is a game about making and shipping soup. Up to four players can cooperate in a single game to excavate land, gather resources, and build a factory capable of shipping soup into the galaxy. The end game results when one corporation, hopefully yours, dominates 100% of the market share on a given planet. There’s a workday cycle that forces you to stop production every ten minutes or so, and opposing factions will attack your factory intermittently. The game’s biggest draw to me is the pursuit of the ideal full automation.
Soup factories are comprised of corridors, soup factories, and soup rockets. The more planets you conquer, the more technology you have available at your fingertips. Most factory infrastructure parts are bought with matter, tiny blue floppy disk-looking bits that have to be dug out of surrounding land. Your robotic staff (including weaponry and vehicles) are bought using gold, which is gained by shipping soups. Some soups, usually those with rare ingredients, net you more gold per can, but those are the basic currencies at work here. Each robot can perform a different task, from carrying items horizontally to tossing ingredients or soup cans up and down corridors. There are even a few robots who can sustain a garden for you, harvesting fully grown plants and replanting the extra raw parts. With enough time and careful planning, you may eventually create a veritable Ballet Mécanique; all of your robo-servants working in concert to harvest, create, and ship product. That’s the ideal, of course; make it play itself. The reality, though, includes a handful of scrambling and a pinch of lag.
Nom Nom Galaxy‘s basics are a solid foundation for a great game. Each soup factory can take two separate ingredients, which is easy yet robust enough to invite discovery by way of recipe creation. There are over 100 recipes to be created, and I just recently figured out that I can check my recipes by pressing the touch pad. This touches on a distinct problem I have with the game. Even after playing it a bunch, I had no idea that the game supported local 2-player split-screen coop. I think the problem lies in the fact that I don’t often have two controllers turned on at once with my PS4. Once a second controller is on and idle, a message blinks at the top of the screen that prompts split-screen. I have a feeling that message should just blink at the beginning of every day. Online play is a mixed bag. The only time I didn’t experience latency or lag issues is when I played a game in S.O.O.P. Simulator Mode, which gets rid of opposing companies but retains the workday cycle and enemy bombardments. Otherwise, there are some crippling online issues that suck all of the fun out of souping with friends. You have the option to leave your game open for others to join. When someone joins, the game cuts to a black screen then comes back with the person in your game. It’s an unflattering drop-in/drop-out system, but at least it doesn’t crash… often. If you leafed through the gallery above, you might have noticed some screens that are completely black. That’s when the game kicked me to a black screen for trying to play online. At least it auto-saves progress often enough that I didn’t lose anything. I’m not sure what I prefer less – playing NNG alone or rolling the dice on a potentially passable online experience. If I had an offline partner who also liked the game, I might have had a better time playing cooperatively.
I wound up playing most of the game in offline mode, by myself. I had a good time unlocking pins (in-game achievements for doing certain things), discovering recipes, and dominating markets, but I sincerely wish I could play it online without issue. A PvP mode would also be excellent; fighting another human for galactic dominance as opposed to a usually sluggish AI. The daily-ish galactic challenges are fun for a while (and help with pins), but they start to repeat after a week or so, losing their luster. In all, I’ve invested well over a dozen hours into Nom Nom Galaxy. I beat all of the planets in the campaign and have only a few trophies left to platty town. If I can rope a local person into playing with me, I’ll try to go for the last few pins. It should be noted that at the time of this review, Double Eleven have patched the game a few times. They are dedicated to fixing the issues that exist. If they do, I’d happily jump on and make soup with you!
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Simple soup recipes
- Ideal of automation
- Terraria with objectives
What I Dislike:
- Buggy online
- Unplayable online