PixARK is Snail Games’ anticipated release offering a pixelated version of the much-loved survival game ARK. Snail Digital did not actually develop the original ARK: Survival Evolved game, but was actually utilized to create this version of the game by developers Studio Wildcard. They also built the game ARK Park for the same franchise.
PixARK is what you would expect for a pixelated survival game. You pick up what you can after you are dropped into a world with only your fists and the clothes on your back, and you begin to collect item after item in hopes of building tools, armor, a home, and beyond. There is the ability to be in a clan with others in this game, just like in most survival games, and as one would expect, there is strength to be had in numbers. There is no actual story to the game, just survival, but there are mailboxes throughout that offer quests to help you get to know the game and earn rewards.
The game is single player, but there are also shared servers for online co-op. Official servers are all that are active at this time and seem to be fairly bustling. The game control is intuitive as with other survival games, keeping you on the WASD keys and the spacebar. E will help you pick things up and select things and you hit things with your left pointer. PixARK’s controls match ARK:SE especially, so players of the franchise will find familiarity in that. One thing I’ve always liked about survival games is the sound of chipping away at the different materials, and this game does have satisfying sound editing and the natural behaviors you would expect of your tools and your character. There is no voice acting to speak of, just environmental noise, which, in itself, is solid.
When I first heard PixARK was releasing, I was skeptical. ARK:SE is a realistic-appearing survival game and the idea of creating a pixel version seemed a bit like grasping at straws. Minecraft is its own game, as is Roblox, and stepping into this realm seems like a saturated venture. There are some key differences, though. PixARK has more options in animal taming and building. It has much of the same flexibility as ARK: SE, and it is nice to be able to have a companion animal wander with you. It runs smoothly, and the graphics are a bit more polished than other pixel games, but I’m still not sure it was a necessary addition to this market.
Those Nasty Bugs
Currently, PixARK has recently left Early Access, but there are significant bugs that need to be ironed out. Some of ARK:SE has been ported over for this, including a game engine that doesn’t seem to want to handle the graphics. These graphics are significantly simpler than its sister game, so the drop in performance on that front isn’t ideal. I found myself often in loading loops when entering areas where others have built. Animals would rubber-band and glitch into stones and trees. Chasing down animals to kill or tame was nearly impossible. Tooltips would get stuck on my screen, even after a restart and I could never remove them. The UI overall is cluttered and hard to navigate without clear direction. Had I not already been a survival game pro, I might find myself overwhelmed.
I understand the interest in placing a game like this on the market, but it just seems too rushed and not really necessary. The game comes off like a bit of a cash grab for the market, and priced at $40, it just seems to be too little for the price tag. It’s ambitious, I’ll give it that, but one year of Early Access really should have ironed out some of these bugs.
***PC code provided by the publisher***
- Intuitive controls
- Cute Pandas
- Satisfying sounds
- Still Buggy
- Significant Lag
- No exciting content
- Nothing new