Developer: Mikolaj 'Sos' Kaminski
McPixel is an odd little proposition and a tremendously difficult game to review. Its adorable big pixel art style and addictive chiptune soundtrack loops hide all manner of inexplicable and hilarious shenanigans, an enigma for the ages. I'm having the devil's own time trying to work out what criteria to judge McPixel against... because I can't decide what it actually is.
In many ways, McPixel is a point & click adventure game, but spliced with WarioWare DNA. Flame-haired protagonist McPixel is thrown into a number of outrageously dangerous situations - such as a clown threatening a theme park with a bomb strapped to his stomach or standing on the bridge of a burning spaceship - and given twenty seconds to work out how to save the day. You'll do so by clicking on stuff and seeing what happens. Perhaps the clown will drop his trousers when you kick him in the balls. Maybe the balloons could help. What about the candy floss? How does the candy floss factor into this?! Only one particular sequence of clicks or combination of items will result in anything other than total catastrophe, but should you fail, you'll be catapulted into the next puzzle within a few short seconds. It's tense, hectic and instantly engaging.
So McPixel is a puzzle-packed adventure game, then, except that it absolutely isn't.
Even the most complex solutions require a couple of clicks maximum (often they can be solved by clicking a single scenery object), and usually, your decision will automatically resolve itself in a way that you'd never expect. More profoundly, however, solving each puzzle isn't actually the point. Instead, you'll unlock new content and receive gold medals simply by interacting with every object and within a scene. McPixel isn't really about getting the puzzle right, it's about discovering how a single situation can play out when approached in myriad different ways.
So perhaps McPixel is piece of interactive performance art, then. But this term brings po-faced experimental pieces like The Passage and Every Day The Same Dream to mind, and McPixel is out to make you laugh in the most crass ways possible. It's hilarious, lowbrow and crude to the extreme, to the extent where every NPC interaction begins with a swift kick to the crotch. You'll get sucked into a robot's arse. You'll put pepper down a pirate's pants while standing in a whale's mouth. President Obama will make out with you. An Eskimo woman will flash you, you'll insert a bone into a cow's rectum and dropkick an old man. Inexplicable locations rub shoulders with familiar homages to films and games, creating a logical disconnect that continually pummels your pleasure centres. Humour is a subjective thing, but McPixel dishes out its non-sequitur gags so thick and so fast that your brain will eventually start laughing just to make sense of it all.
So, McPixel is simple dumb fun, then. Except that it's actually really smart. Some of the puzzle solutions are brilliantly twisted and based on cerebral broken logic. Some of the jokes approach Python-esque levels of excellence. McPixel proves to be cheekily self-aware, referential and riotously anarchic; it's not stupid, indeed, it's clever enough to know exactly how to make players laugh and engage with the experience.
So... you know what? Sod it. I could go on all day about what McPixel isn't, but here's what it is: a fantastic, worthwhile waste of time. You can potentially blow through everything within a handful of hours, but taken as a delightful snack between gaming meals, a treat enjoyed in 15-minute chunks, it's an absolute delight. Continued play unlocks a rhythm minigame and level editor among more bizarre bonuses, and provides plenty of value for the price. It's crazy, stupid and thoroughly awesome - just go in with an open mind, and whatever you do, don't overthink anything.
The Short Version: McPixel is profoundly stupid, devastatingly intelligent, hilarious, crazy, cerebral and thorughly inexplicable.
Most importantly, however, it's a fantastic waste of time.