We've got a guy. A dog. An art style I've never seen on an Xbox 360. A point-and-click adventure. And side-scrolling driving.
What Is It? At the Penny Arcade Expo, about halfway between where you could buy nachos or watch a comics arts sketch on his DS, there was a kiosk running two forthcoming Xbox Live Arcade games from Take Two Interactive's 2K Play level. Axel and PIxel, an adventure game from Czech studio Silver Wish Games is the first of those efforts.
What We Saw I made Axel, an artist, and Pixel, a dog, venture through a few puzzling screens worth of mild clickable challenges, then drove them through an obstacle course in a big-wheeled truck.
How Far Along Is It? The game is set for release next month for download on the Xbox 360.
What Needs Improvement? A little Too Mixed: I was smitten by the imaginatively mixed art stlye but less excited by the mixed gameplay. I enjoyed using the control stick to move a pointer across the screen, clicking at whatever made my cursor sparkle and invite some sort of interaction. And I was fine with the simple side-scrolling drive, rock and boost off-roading. But a little button-pressing mini-game that I had to do in order to battle an angry god in the sky was an undesired interruption of the mostly point-and-click adventure. The puzzles were good enough; I hope there's not too much finger-DDR.
What Should Stay The Same? The Art: Would we call this fantasy mixed with realism? Photography mixed with drawing? Anything that makes swans look like this is alright by me. It's got a great look.
The Puzzles: I was not able to play long enough to encounter anything other than starter puzzles. I was doing basic stuff, like having the artist paint flowers on a tree so that a bee would fly away and the dog could run ahead. I was plucking an oar from the ground in order to row a boat across the lake. And I was fishing a long yellow something-or-other out of the lake for reasons I can't even recall. Nothing was too complex; and it was easy to figure out thanks to the ability to just drag the cursor until it's near anything sparkling (then just click and see what happens). The delight in the levels I played was in seeing what happens, emphasis on the word "seeing." It all just looks interesting.
Final Thoughts I didn't have much time with this game, and I would a expect a final judgement on adventure game to be based on the quality of its puzzles, not just its graphics or silly driving side-mission. What I can say is that this game has one of the most unusual art styles I've seen in a while. I hope it proves to play as creatively as it looks.