Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/14/09 | Genre: Adventure
Axel & Pixel is the story of an artist named Axel and his dog Pixel who live in a cozy little cottage in the mountains. In the intro, we see Axel fall asleep in his comfy chair. In his dream an evil rat traps them in this bizarre dream world and they have to chase the rodent down in order to get back home. The dream is broken up into the four seasons of the year: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. The various seasons determines the artwork and layout of each chapter. Immediately I felt like Terry Gilliam (Monty Python) was in charge of Art Design. In the first level there is an ice monster that looks like it was right out of The Holy Grail! I for one loved the quirkiness of the art style.
All in all, Axel and Pixel is a puzzle game. Some are straightforward puzzles like pushing/pulling a lever or rearranging level objects so you can pass. Others are more involved like one where you have to rearrange broken eyeglasses to refract beams of light to melt a log, and another where you have to adjust various size pipes to drain water out of a room.
There are other gameplay mechanics that break up the point-and-click monotony. In various chapters there are “quicktime events” that require you to quickly press certain button combos in order to climb up a mountain or move out of the way of falling icicles. There are also chapters where you maneuver vehicles, like a hot air balloon through an obstacle filled cave or drive a monster truck over hills and ramp over deep chasms. There are a couple of mini games based on these specific “vehicle” levels. For example in one of the mini games you drive the monster truck fast enough to hit a specific score. The mini games have Achievements tied to them, so if you want all 200 Gamer score points, you need to play through them.
The shortness of Axel & Pixel is the biggest problem I have with the game. In fact, I think this might be the shortest game I have ever played on the 360. I went through the entire game in about 2 hours. Also, when you are finished with the game there isn’t much re-playability. You can go back and replay any level in any order to try and get all the missed objects. However, after you find everything and do all the mini games there isn’t much to pull you back to the game, unless you just want to play it to finish it with a faster time.
When I sat down and started to play Axel & Pixel, I really wasn’t sure how I felt. I liked it, yet I was wanting a little more. At first glance it plays like a point and click adventure game, but it’s nothing like that. In fact, there isn’t much “adventuring” to do in this game. Your actual gameplay is laid out for you, you just have to figure out where that path is. That is where the game seems to lack for me. In one level I got stuck on a puzzle, and just started clicking everywhere on the screen until I got it right.
Did I like the game? Yes, and No. The artwork was beautiful, and honestly playing through this game was kind of relaxing. But I felt it was exceptionally short and way too easy to be a must have.
I would definitely download the trial first before you buy this game!