Axel & Pixel

Review

posted 10/28/2009 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360
One thing I do like about this adventure is that all of the puzzles are self-contained in the level.  In many graphic adventure games you will pick up items along the way that won't be used until much, much later.  That is not the case here.  You start each level fresh, so everything you need to solve the puzzle will be in that small area.  This keeps the frustration level down, but also means that most of the levels are entirely too easy.  That's not to say that you won't get stuck a few times along the way, but I didn't have much of a problem breezing through these stages.  When all else fails all you need to do is slowly move your cursor around the screen looking for it to turn yellow.  Point and click veterans will likely find the game's puzzles too easy.  And even if you didn't grow up playing these games, it won't take you more than a couple hours to beat Axel & Pixel.

But let's say I'm wrong and you are constantly getting stuck.  The developers have given you the ability to call for help up to three times a level.  All you need to do is hold the "Y" button and the game will tell you what you're supposed to do next.  If you exhaust all of your hints then you're on your own.  But the truth is, most gamers won't need to use more than one or two throughout the course of the entire game.

The real draw here is the art direction, which reminded me a lot of Terry Gilliam's contributions in Monty Python's Flying Circus ... only without any of the humor.  Both Axel and Pixel look hand drawn, while the objects around them have a much more realistic look.  Much of the game's animation looks like it's quickly thrown together, rarely giving you more than a few frames of animation for any particular scene.  Yet this style is unique and oddly compelling.  The way the game moves through environments is interesting and artistically clever.  That's not to say that the style will appeal to everybody, but it definitely has a look that is all its own.


The music is made up of soft tunes, none of them overpowering the graphics on screen.  There are appropriate sound effects throughout the game, though Axel & Pixel has a decidedly minimalist approach.  The one thing that did annoy me was the main character, which chooses to grumble instead of speaking English (or any other language for that matter).  Early on it works, but by the end of the game I started to get annoyed with the similar sounds coming out of Axel's mouth.

Sadly there's not much else to do once you've beaten the two or three hour adventure.  You can play the vehicle-based mini-games again, but those weren't fun enough to warrant a repeat visit.  You can also go back and search for the hidden items, which include bones for Pixel and paints for Axel.  You can try and beat the high scores, though I have no idea how this game generates the score at the end of the game.  When all is said and done, you'll likely go through the game once and then move on to something else.  You may want to revisit this dreamscape in the future, but this is not going to be one of those games where you play it every day.

Despite being short and on the easy side, I had a good time playing through Axel & Pixel.  There's something foreign about the style and gameplay, I wasn't surprised to learn that this was programmed outside of the United States.  This is not a game for everybody and chances are if you don't like the demo you will not like the rest of the game.  However, I enjoyed the trip and look forward to seeing what Silver Wish Games comes up with next.


B-
With its unique art style and creative puzzles, there's a lot to like about Axel & Pixel. Unfortunately it's marred by a short run time and puzzles that can be easily solved without using any tips. Fans of graphic adventures will have a good time journeying through this exciting dreamscape, but be warned: Axel & Pixel is not for everybody!


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