XBLA Review: Axel & Pixel

Is this a dream or a nightmare to play?

Axel and Pixel are trapped in a beautiful but dangerous dream world. If they plan to get out they must solve its mysteries. It’s a point and click adventure, but does it push the right buttons?
The game manages to satisfy in terms of puzzle solving and its visual look is welcome. There are just two things holding it back from being a must-have title. The first is that you can breeze through the entire game in about 2-3 hours; the second is that the minigames included are incredibly frustrating and awkward to control.

Axel & Pixel is split into chapters for each season of the year as you chase down a monster that has a key to escape the dream they are in. There’s no voice-acting as such other than grunts, but the game doesn’t look like it requires a deep narrative. It’s obvious that the game is meant for the younger gamer and you can use hints to highlight what you need to click if you get stuck…although using too many will make you exempt from at least 1 achievement, so be careful!
Still, the game is pretty easy. I guess the only trouble with some puzzles is that the backgrounds lack detail and it can be hard to make some objects out, it’s one of the main problems with the minigames. There is a balloon one which sees you float through a cavern, but it’s dark and it can be tough to tell what things will hit your balloon and what things won’t. It could have just benefited from a bit more detail.

It’s a charming game with a cute visual style and it does tell a good, but minimalist story. There are collectables to hunt down, but they are also fairly easy to find. I would have liked more of a challenge on the puzzles instead of just getting angry at the minigames which lack the fun factor and are incredibly annoying to control.

The Verdict

Axel & Pixel is a good experience, but it’s over far too quickly. Its way too easy and the minigames will infuriate you. Overall, its well worth a look…just don’t go expecting too much.