When you think “4am” it usually means something like an early start for work, a good night out, or you simply wish you hadn’t drunk that coffee before you went to bed. Now 4am means a PlayStation Move experience which allows you to create music simply with the flick of your wrist.
4am is not a game as such. Gameplay is made up of pushing, pulling, twisting, sliding, dragging and tapping your Move controller like an interactive BopIt whilst adding and dropping “loops” by way of double clicking your face buttons which creates both a visual and musical performance on your screen.
The lack of goals or a ‘game over’ factor means it is truly about how immersed you become in the set list – known as canvases – you select but once you have had enough and you end your set, if another one happens to unlock it almost always drags you back in to play the new tutorial to see what new rhythms and beats you have now. The negative aspect here is that 4am does not actually communicate to you when you have unlocked something and the only time you know is when you end the set. As there are no goals you don’t know what you have to do to unlock an item and therefore when you end your set you could have unlocked two or ten items. Maybe you are supposed to just enjoy the experience but as a gamer I found the lack of goals strange.
4am is not as in-depth as other music creation software you can buy and it doesn’t have enough “gaming” to be a game. The technology could be utilised superbly for either gaming or music creation in the future but it could also be 4am’s undoing if either of these elements were pushed harder than the other. The fact that it is neither a game or a rigid music creator is part of its appeal.
Maybe 4am’s key hook line is the instant gratification you receive when somebody likes what you are doing. Just like how you create the music and visuals live and in real-time, other users can watch your performance in 4am’s live viewer and give you “Kudos” by waving their move controller in the air. You can also return the favour and watch other user’s performances and pick up tips as well as give “Kudos”.
Once you start receiving “Kudos” from other users you start thinking about what you are doing with your music and instead of throwing beats and rhythms around like there’s no tomorrow you start slowly dragging them on the screen, giving a little twist here, a little poke there and – just like a real instrument – the more you practise, the better you become.
You can advertise your performances on both Facebook and Twitter from within the menu but unless you have a mass following of 4am users within your social network this element will not bring you many more viewers – although there is a nice trophy for advertising.
If there was an online co-op aspect to 4am there may be a more mass appeal to the social media element, but then – once again – we have to ask would this in actual fact hurt the “gameplay” of 4am?
You can also “visualise” your own music by selecting tracks from your PlayStation hard drive. This is great for a party. Choose your songs, upload to the PlayStation and let 4am do its thing.
Anyone can play this and make music no matter how young (my two year old daughter waved the controller for a little while) or how old (the Father-in-Law pushed a few buttons and muttered something about pesky kids and their gadgets) and on both occasions the loops and rhythms blended perfectly. As such I’m not actually sure if there is a target audience for 4am, but I do know that if you like music, performing, stress-free gaming or just pure innovation then you will find that 4am is the euphoria of a great night out with your mates. If you need goals, enemies, puzzles or head shots from 750 feet then you may find this to be just pavement pizza.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Platform: PS3 Release Date: 15/05/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Pixeljunk 4am by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.