On a snowy winter morning, Axel had been preparing to paint when his thoughts were disrupted by a sudden noise outside his window. His idea gone, he tossed his paints down and headed over to his trusty rocking chair for a nap with his faithful dog, Pixel.
He awoke to find strange crystals growing all over his yard. Moments later he watched as a giant red rat caused an even larger icicle to fall and crush his home! The rat snickered, dangled a golden key at Axel, and then scurried away. Now Axel and Pixel must track down the monster rat and retrieve the magic key before the Ice Giant causes the dream world to become frozen over in a permanent winter!
Their story form the bulk of this point and click adventure game. You effectively control both of the title characters, as you only choose which elements of the scene to interact with and they do the rest. Some of these interactions are completely bizarre or downright silly, but they all still fit the logic of this story being a dream.
There's really only one catch to this game: the developers thought it would be a good idea to randomly include quick time events
during the action scenes. There isn't much of a penalty for failing them -- you'll just need to try the sequence again -- but there's a good chance that you'll fail them all at least once since there's no way to tell when they'll occur.
If that doesn't scare you off and you're a fan of imaginitive games like this, then I'd suggest treating yourself to an evening with this young man and his dog.
Surreal and detailed world
Axel's dream starts out being fairly well grounded in reality, but as you progress from scene to scene the world becomes increasingly surreal. Making things slightly more surreal is the way the artwork is done. The heroes and the rat are always depicted as cartoons, while the rest of the world is made from a mixture of photographs or a different animated style.
Collectibles lead to a secret ending
If you look around each scene closely enough, you'll discover hidden paint tubes and something unique for Axel to sketch. You don't explicitly need to locate them all to enjoy the game, but there are achievements
relating to these items and finding them all unlocks
a slightly different ending
In addition to solving the puzzle each scene presents, there are three big minigames
for you to play. Each minigame
revolves around navigating some dangerous area (such as a river) using a vehicle that Axel brought to life with his magical paintbrush. Once you've cleared the story once, you go back and replay the minigames
as much as you want from the game's menus -- a handy feature for those of you who want the achievements
that are related to them!
Hints keep you from getting stuck
While the game itself is fairly short, there are a number of achievements
to collect during your playthrough. Some of these are actually fairly difficult to earn. Completionists
are going to need to scour the scenes very closely and put some effort into mastering the vehicle segments.
Most of the scenes are designed so that you can easily figure out what you need to do in order to continue on. Should you get stuck, you can request a hint to guide you along. You're limited to just three hints in a level, so try to make them count!
Quick Time Events
Probably the biggest downside to this game is that several scenes have areas that involve quick time events
. These are usually triggered when Axel attempts to do something fairly tricky, like scale a cliff or catch a robe in mid jump. Failing the quick time event
may just set you back momentarily, but sometimes it forces you to do the scene over again. Worse, you don't always know when a quick time event
is about to be triggered, which sets you up for failure.
Some of the things that happen in the game include throwing snowballs at the Ice Giant, having ants latch on to a larger bug, spooking a bird with a rock and Axel getting bit by a wild hog. All of this is treated as slapstick at worst, though if Axel is injured enough the scene will be forced to restart.
The Ice Giant's lair has nipples
This is just on the weird side of things. The entrance to the Ice Giant's lair is a hodge-podge of mechanical parts arranged to resemble a person. I'm not sure if the figure is supposed to be male or female, but there are pipes (cannons?) that are positioned in just the right place to suggest that the figure has nipples. To be fair, you'd probably think the building was depicting a face if it wasn't for the fact that it has arms coming out of the sides of its eyes.