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Review: Axel & Pixel





Table of Contents

Quick Information

Rating: Pretty Fun
Gore & Brutality Magic Sex Civility Religion
1 0 0 0 0
Age Rating Suitable for everyone
License: Commercial
System used: Martha
Available From: Steam

Game Screenshots


An early quick time event


Over hill and over dale


Check out dem bones!

General Notes

Generally speaking, point and click adventure games can be hit or miss. Many of them focus on the art style to the point that the gameplay suffers, and some forget to include a compelling reason for why the characters are on their journey. This charming game is one of those that got the combination of gameplay and graphics almost perfectly right.

If you enjoy this genre, then you should treat yourself to an evening with this young man and his dog.

Story Summary

On a snowy winter morning, Axel had been preparing to paint when his thoughts were disrupted by a sudden noise outside his window. His idea gone, he tossed his paints down and headed over to his trusty rocking chair for a nap with his faithful dog, Pixel.

He awoke to find strange crystals growing all over his yard. Moments later he watched as a giant red rat caused an even larger icicle to fall and crush his home. The rat snickered, dangled a golden key at Axel, and then scurried away. Now Axel and Pixel must track down the monster rat and retrieve the magic key before the Ice Giant causes the dream world to become frozen over in a permanent winter!

Gameplay Summary

Axel and Pixel is a point and click adventure with a number of short minigames strung throughout the vivid dream world. In order to progress, you'll need to click on various objects to indicate that you want Axel or Pixel to interact with them.

Along the way, you'll sometimes need to deal with quick time events, so be prepared to hit the arrow keys when Axel attempts something particularly daring.

Pros

Surreal and detailed world
Axel's dream starts out being fairly well grounded in reality, but as you progress from scene to scene the world becomes increasingly surreal and dreamlike. Making things slightly more surreal is the way the artwork is done. The heroes and the rat are always depicted as cartoons, while the rest of the world is made from a mixture of photographs or a different animated style.


Steam features
While the game itself is fairly short, there are a number of achievements to collect during your playthrough. Some of these are actually fairly difficult to earn, so completionists are going to need to put some effort into those minigames!


Challenging minigames
While there are several puzzles for you to solve, there are three big minigames. Once you've cleared the story once, you go back and replay the minigames as much as you want from the game's menus. All of these involve navigating a hazardous area using a vehicle Axel has brought to life with his magical paintbrush.


Collectables lead to a secret ending
Throughout the scenes are paint tubes and the occasional hidden sketch for you to find and collect. If you managed to find them all, you'll get an achievement and a slightly different ending.


Hints keep you from getting stuck
Most of the scenes are designed so that you can easily figure out what you need to do in order to continue on. Should you get stuck, you can request a hint to guide you along. You're limited to just three hints in a level, so try to make them count!


Cons

Quick Time Events
Probably the biggest downside to this game is that several scenes have areas that involve quick time events. These are usually triggered when Axel attempts to do something fairly tricky, like scale a cliff or catch a robe in mid jump. Failing the quick time event may just set you back momentarily, but sometimes it forces you to do the scene over again. Worse, you don't always know when a quick time event is about to be triggered, which pretty much assures that you'll fail them all at least once.


Concerns and Issues

Mild violence
Some of the things that happen in the game include throwing snowballs at the Ice Giant, having ants latch on to a larger bug, spooking a bird with a rock and Axel getting bit by a wild hog. All of this is treated as slapstick at worst, though if Axel is injured enough the scene will be forced to restart.


The Ice Giant's lair has nipples
This is just on the weird side of things. The entrance to the Ice Giant's lair is a hodge-podge of mechanical parts arranged to resemble a person. I'm not sure if the figure is supposed to be male or female, but there are pipes (cannons?) that are positioned in just the right place to suggest that the figure has nipples. To be fair, you'd probably think the building was depicting a face if it wasn't for the fact that it has arms coming out of the sides of its eyes.