Axel & Pixel is a charming point & click adventure game where your goal is to save your character Axel (an artist) and his dog Pixel. They're trapped in a side-scrolling two-dimensional dreamscape and strange things exist in there with them.
Controlling a glowing cursor, you must hunt through the photograph-textured environment for objects you can interact with and then figure out how to interact with them in order to proceed, unlock additional content or just make fun things happen. It's perhaps more like the old Monty Python adventure games than it is your classic Lucasarts game, with less indirect control of your character and more indirect control of the environment.
Artistically Axel & Pixel boldly strides out alone, creating a cute and friendly style with cartoon characters (each of them oozing quirky personality) drawn over the top of worlds constructed from photographs of plants, logs, rocks and other interesting textures. The combination (with the humour on top) feels a lot like The Neverhood (where's the sequel or XBLA port of that, eh?) which is a very flattering comparison indeed.
Gameplay doesn't stick to simply pointing at things; often you'll need to perform timed button presses in classic QTE (quick time event) style, with numerous minigames slotted in between the various point & click levels. Minigames include things like driving a 4x4 in an elastomania (or indeed, Trials HD) style way or trying to negotiate a cave in an airship using just ascend or descend controls.
The minigames are available outside of the main story game, but, whilst certainly worthy of their place in the adventure, they're not really good enough to hold their own in a minigame collection. Each of them has been seen before and in every case, they've been done better. There's nothing ostensibly wrong with them but they don't have much in the way of X-factor to stand them apart from the crowd.
The game is also very short, with only a few unlockables or achievements to send you back in for a second play-through. The interplay between the dog and his master or between your actions and the backgrounds is certainly very charming but once is really enough and when once is this short and the minigame collection is unlikely to enthrall you enough to boot the title alone, chances are pretty good that this is 800 points for one or two gaming sessions - three at the most.
It's pretty harmless fun and even young kids will still get something out of it (it could do with more random environment interaction if it was looking to really sew up that segment), it just could have done with more content and a bit more flair in the design of the gameplay. Well worth a look, especially if you like point & clickers.