A delightfully whimsical and very surreal journey awaits you in Axel & Pixel. This point-and-click adventure game is teeming with life, has plenty to do and a surprising amount of variety. There are more than 20 levels to explore and 30 items to collect as you guide the titular pair through a dream world in pursuit of an evil rat that holds the key back home.
An artist by trade, Axel falls asleep one wintery day accompanied by his dog Pixel. The two awaken during spring in a world that threatens to be frozen over by an Ice Giant if they cannot capture the evil rat before the winter comes again. Axel & Pixel must manipulate the objects and environments around them in order to reach their goal. Read More…
The first thing you will notice about Axel & Pixel is its striking art style which combines photorealistic textures and hand drawn objects and characters. The levels are painstakingly detailed and full of objects and living things to interact with. The backgrounds can be beautiful and though visual art is highly subjective, I feel that Axel & Pixel game is one of the best-looking and most inviting games I’ve seen all year.
Developer Silver Wish Games did an excellent job of making the dream world feel alive not only with visual art, but with audio production as well. Axel & Pixel are both very expressive and though there is no spoken dialogue in the game, it is easy to understand what is going on. The original soundtrack composed by Matus Siroky is fitting and evokes emotions raging from joy to fear. The entire presentation just clicked with me and I will fondly remember Axel & Pixel as an all-around beautiful game for years.
It helps that the game itself is quite fun as well. Anyone who has ever played a point-and-click adventure game should have no difficulty grasping the way that most of Axel & Pixel is played. Players control a cursor with the left analog stick and can interact with objects that get highlighted as they comb the screen.
Each level has a solution that is accomplished by interacting with objects in the right order. There is no way to fail the point-and-click levels and they can all be solved using a trial-and-error approach. The game is scored however and clearing levels quickly without asking for hints is rewarded. Players trying to collect all of the hidden items in the game will have to exhaust every possible action from each level and be very careful about the order they perform these actions in.
The game is broken down into four seasons that each have six levels. In addition to the point-and-click levels, each season has a puzzle level that must be solved in order to continue. The puzzles are a nice change of pace from pixel-hunting and are generally solved by moving and rotating pieces. Axel and Pixel also features three levels in which you control moving vehicles such as a hot air balloon and a dune buggy.
These levels are fun and manage to fit into the context of the game despite being very different from the point-and-click and puzzle levels. There are even some quick time events and a boss battle in Axel & Pixel, which help to make this one of the most diverse adventure games in recent memory. The vehicle levels can be unlocked to play as scored minigames outside of the story and there are leaderboards for each one as well as the story mode itself.
Climbing the story leaderboard will require you to get through the game at a good pace and collect as many items as possible. My first time through Axel & Pixel took about four or six hours and it took another few to go back collect everything I missed by replaying levels individually. Outside of the minigames there is very little replay value in Axel & Pixel.
The journey however, was worth the price of admission for me. I had no idea what to expect when I started Axel & Pixel. What I found was a game that has a surprisingly deep narrative which touches on themes like isolation and environmentalism, an unexpected amount of variety and a beautiful world that I did not want to leave.
+ Unique Art Style
+ Beautiful Soundtrack
+ Plenty of Variety
- Little Replay Value
Game Forward Score: 5/5
Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward
Axel & Pixel (XBLA) Quick Facts:
Genre: Puzzle / Adventure
Developer: Silver Wish Games
Publisher: 2K Play
Release Date: Oct 14, 2009
Price: 800 Microsoft Points
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)