McPixel is a weird game. There’s no beating around the bush here, folks, if you’re going to sink five bucks into McPixel‘s Steam release, be ready to be annoyed and confused. But above all else, you should be prepared for something really unique, as McPixel strives to get under your skin and make you remember it.
McPixel was designed by Swedish indie dev Sos with the intention of parodying MacGyver/MacGruber. It’s difficult to compare McPixel to anything anywhere. It has a very referential and base sense of humor, often employing fart and humping jokes, yet also making witty use of them. I found myself chuckling at jokes that I’d normally scoff at, and that’s impressive for a video game. Its gameplay style resembles a Warioware minigame crossed with a Where’s Waldo book. The object of the game is to find and get rid of a bomb in the environment before the twenty second long timer ticks down. Your character, the titular bomb disposal expert McPixel, interacts with the world around him to safely get rid of that explosive.
The interaction is simple: You click an object and McPixel will interact with it, normally beginning with a swift kick. McPixel will sometimes pick up the item instead of just interacting with it, allowing you to use said item on another item, such as smacking a snake with a shovel. McPixel, as both a game and a character, is crude, in every sense of the word. The best example of this I can think of is a section in the Arctic, where a woman dressed in Inuit garb is standing outside an igloo. Clicking on the woman makes her expose her breasts, but clicking on a pile of snow, then her causes McPixel to toss a snowball onto her nude body. Every interaction forces the bomb’s hand, either causing it to explode or be defused. Sometimes you can tell which interaction will cause the bomb to be defused, but a lot of the time I ended up clicking around the screen randomly until something worked. Herein lies McPixel‘s main problem, there is little to no direction in the interface. Sure, putting any kind of hints into the environment would have ruined the surprise, but you do end up clicking the same thing over and over at times, attempting to get a better outcome than the last. It makes a game that presents itself as lackadaisical into a frustration-fest. I haven’t sighed heavily at a game as much as I did to McPixel.
The graphics and music of McPixel are stylized as to be a Commodore 64 era game (as a side note, McPixel is being developed for Commodore 64! I wonder what kind of market it’ll reach, three, four people?). The style is neat and welcome in the days of brown and grim-dark. The shape of every character is the same, yet they have a different feel from any sprites I’ve seen, and I look forward to McPixel style sprite comics*. The music is repetitive yet catchy. There’s maybe three tracks in the game total, but they’re all really good.
McPixel also comes with some weird extras. A level editor comes packaged in, which allows you to create levels and share them with friends. Some levels have been put out as free DLC already, which are available now. There’s also a completely terrible fart based rhythm game and a weird McPixel chat room where everyone who owns the game can hop onto a server and talk. It’s clever, but the couple of times I went in, there was nobody there. (We should have a meetup!)
It’s difficult rate McPixel. As a game, it does exactly what it sets out to do, it gives you fast and wacky puzzles to complete, surrounds them with quick and kinda dumb jokes, but then makes it frustrating to get to the jokes. McPixel is an very interesting and original game, but there’s plenty of annoyances to dredge through to get to the good stuff. I recommend it with a HUGE grain of salt. Play McPixel, but be prepared to absolutely hate it.
*I do not look forward to this. Don’t do it.