In which Garitt has a moral dilemma
by Gwardy Jay; Garitt Rocha
I’m having a real moral dilemma. I just finished playing a majority of the bizarre indie title McPixel and I don’t like it. The dilemma comes from the fact that I appreciate what indie devs have to go through just to get their games to market and that I don’t want to be the one saying anything negative about those games. The dilemma comes from the fact that I appreciate what indie devs have to go through just to get their games to market and that I don’t want to be the one saying anything negative about those games, but I am a slave to my opinions so I will carry this burden.
McPixel is a game with a rather novel concept: Take the graphics and gameplay of old point-and-click adventure titles like the King’s Quest and Monkey Island series, add a dash of WarioWare, a sprinkle of MacGyver, stir well for fifteen minutes and let it sit until cool; serves four.
The point of McPixel is to help the hero, McPixel, find and defuse a bomb, explosive, or fire of any sort within the twenty second per level time limit. The catch is that the game is utterly absurd, so traditional methods of thinking aren’t going to serve you well here. In one of the game’s hundred or so levels, players have to put out a fuse that is sticking out of a tree which is connected to what can only be assumed–until you fail, of course, at which point it become very obvious–is a bomb. There are only a handful of interactive objects in the level and none of them give players any sort of ideas as to how to defuse the bomb. As it turns out, you just have to have McPixel lift the sparks right off the fuse with his bare hands to stop the bomb. Makes sense, right?
The point-and-click games that McPixel borrows so heavily from also use a sort of absurdity in their logic, but that’s where McPixel falls of the wagon; the logic. Games like Monkey Island will use overly-literal gags as solutions to puzzles, like forcing players to go off the beaten path to find a literal red herring in order to move forward in the game. Gags like that work because there is a logic involved within the game world that McPixel is completely lacking. Just when I felt I had pegged what McPixel’s logic was, it throws another curve ball and the solution turns out to be something I never would have predicted or been able to guess. It’s as though the game’s developer, Sos Games, was determined to never let players understand the world, or was just reveling in the absolute absurdity of the game.
This point is hammered home even further with the game’s bonus areas, which are next to impossible to get access to. Players must get a silver medal (defuse the bomb) or a gold medal (find every combination of objects in a single level) three times in a row in order to unlock the bonus stage; a single mistake restarts the counter. Since the game’s bent on randomness, solving three puzzles without failing and without already knowing the solution is a complete act of chance. On top of that, when players finish a chapter, which consists of six levels, they have no way of going back and trying again for the bonus stage because the game doesn’t count medals for chapters that are 100% complete. Once I finally got access to the bonus round, I was given a level’s standard twenty second time limit and a room full of other McPixels with no idea as to what I was supposed to be doing. I clicked a McPixel, his shirt lifted for reasons I cannot explain and then I was told I had failed the bonus, still having absolutely no idea as to what happened or why.
Without any sort of logic the game just feels random and disjointed. At no point did I feel challenged or encouraged to experiment in a way that made me feel like I was exploring the game’s world. It was just a monotonous, trial-and-error experience that had me clicking every combination of objects I could until I solved the puzzle, then I’d move on to the next puzzle or chapter and do it again. When all was said and done I didn’t feel at all like I had played a game, but had instead played an interactive flash cartoon. At $10 and with a total completion time of an hour or two to finish everything the game has to offer, that price is too steep.
Now don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t a steaming pile. In fact, the art-style is very neat and the idea of a WarioWare type of puzzle/point-and-click adventure title sounds like it could be a great time. I also found the animation and music to be quite endearing, but the problem I am struggling the most with is giving it the title of ‘game’. Once the novelty of how utterly insane McPixel is wears off, I was left clicking a mouse button on random objects with no particular reason as to why, and I found the experience to be utterly shallow.
Honestly, you could just go to the game’s website and play the demo; that’s about all you’d need for the novelty to wear off, because at the end of the day, McPixel is a non-game that is more about shock than about being a creation of any real substance. Sos Games promises free DLC and a level editor so players can create their own ridiculous levels, but I still cannot, with a clear conscience, suggest anyone spend $10 on this title; there just isn’t enough game in here to warrant that price.