The Tarnishing of Juxtia - Apathia

The Tarnishing of Juxtia is a lot of things. It’s compelling and grimy. It’s twisted and hypnotizing. It can be blisteringly difficult in a few key areas (though it’s not really that bad, if I’m being honest). But above all else, it’s goddamn beautiful.

After making your way through the game’s short tutorial area, you’ll wind up in the Valley of Juxtia, with it’s dull reds contrasting with the silver-blue of the background.

The Tarnishing of Juxtia

The contrast between these colors is stunning, and it makes The Tarnishing of Juxtia difficult to look away from. And the thing is, there are plenty of video games that have one or two key scenes where the colors blend just perfectly and its imagery worms its way into your brain. But with The Tarnishing of Juxtia, this quality is relentless.

From the gold and tan backdrop of the War Wastes…

The Tarnishing of Juxtia - War Wastes

To the illuminated light bridge behind the Pointer Key door

The Tarnishing of Juxtia

To the luscious greens of the Verdant Garden…

The Tarnishing of Juxtia

This game is almost aggressively beautiful. Developer Actual Nerds never runs out of dazzling color combos. You could take almost any screenshot of this game and make a poster from it. In fact, even when the game is being kind of disgusting, it never stops being gorgeous, as is exemplified by the Rotting King boss.

The Tarnishing of Juxtia - The Rotting King

Look, I’ve made no secret of my unending love for pixel art. But what Actual Nerds is doing within these limitations is astounding and jaw-dropping.

I’ve been slowly making my way through The Tarnishing of Juxtia‘s incredible world for the past week or so. I’ve not yet toppled the final boss (I’m getting pretty darn close), but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to.

As a point of comparison, one of my favorite novels of all time is Titus Groan (the first book in the Gormenghast series), but I’ve never actually finished it. Every time I read it, I get a little bit further, but whenever I do, I get panicky about the experience ending. If I ever finish it, there will no longer be anything new waiting for me within its pages.

The Tarnishing of Juxtia

The Tarnishing of Juxtia is kind of like this. I don’t want it to end, because I know there are more color-drenched areas waiting to dazzle my eyeballs. When it’s over, it’s over. Sure, I can replay it, but that sense of discovery just won’t be there the second time through. Yeah, it will still be drop-dead gorgeous, but the experience of stumbling into a new area, only to have your senses overloaded with the richness of the game’s colors? Well, that won’t be as intense on a replay.

In the meantime, I am absolutely loving The Tarnishing of Juxtia. It’s an incredible Metroidvania/Soulslike that shouldn’t be missed for anyone who dabbles with those genres. And it absolutely needs to be experienced by anyone who loves pixel art as much as I do. This is a masterclass in using color to astonish and bewilder the player over and over again. This really is a work of art.

Disclaimer: I was given a review code for The Tarnishing of Juxtia on Steam, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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