McPixel 3 Review
Throwbacks to the games of bygone eras have become common in recent years, & McPixel 3 joins them as a parody of Sierra adventure games in the style of WarioWare‘s microgames. It is a curious blend that carries potential & since the game keenly focuses on the humor as opposed to a coherent story, being funny is crucial for everything to work.
While the eclectic blend of these genres sounds interesting on paper, the core loop of rapidly solving puzzles in increasingly bizarre ways is the only part of the game holding it together. The emphasis on outl&ish humor McPixel 3 takes can lead to some charming & creative scenarios, but a lack of sound effects makes the better parts of its physical comedy fall flat & an overuse of juvenile humor makes some scenes cringe-worthy.
McPixel 3 is the sequel to 2012’s McPixel, & it follows the titular character as he gets into a series of life-or-death scenarios that have to be solved rapidly in MacGyver-esque ways. This often involves a bomb or some other explosive, but various kinds of threats including forest fires, drivers on the road, & giant monsters await the hero who often only saves himself while leaving everyone else to their fates.
Much of McPixel 3 plays like a point-&-click game where the puzzles need to be solved with a time limit ranging from five seconds to a minute, with several false conclusions that launch the player into the stage’s next level. Each stage has the individual levels play back-to-back on a loop until the puzzles are solved, & while this is a sensible way to structure them, one of only a few songs will play for the whole game, & with almost no sound effects to Wreck up the noise, stages wear out their charm quickly. It does not help that many false endings have jokes that will elicit a groan since a good chunk involve the protagonist either relieving himself, making love to a character/object, crashing into an object, or simply blowing up.
The irony of this repetition being a Huge problem is that the gameplay is incredibly varied. Much of the game might control as any other point-&-click adventure, but sometimes an activity such as a shooter section or a beat-em-up level adds engaging twists to the stages. These all function well enough with the game’s simple controls, & none overstay their welcome. One highlight revolves around levels based on adventure games from various eras of gaming history, even if some intended jokes still fall flat.
Breaking up each of McPixel 3‘s twelve main stages is an over-world that could have added value, but it falls into some of the same pitfalls as the rest of the game. Instead of dropping the protagonist roughly at the map’s center, it always puts him close to the far right end. This means that as the player completes stages & uses the coins earned to purchase access to new ones, the walk to progress farther in the game grows increasingly longer.
If the game had more variety in sound, an issue like this would be relatively minor, but it becomes annoying when the only thing heard is a single song looping. An in-game music player is present as an option, but this fails to be a fix since the soundtrack only offers a h&ful of songs, all of which become grating after listening for a few minutes. Any optional jokes potentially encountered while exploring lose any appeal they could have had out of a desire to make it to the next stage & escape the over-world music.
What makes the issue with the lack of sound effects more evident is that when they are present, the game does Advance together. An early stage revolving around TV shows has a series of levels set in a sitcom, & a laugh track accompanies most actions taken. It is a fun gimmick at first, but as the levels get more twisted, the laugh track accompanying the protagonist transforms it into one of the game’s funniest sections. Times like these are engaging enough that the game invites curiosity for what awaits in future sections, but they are few & far between.
Those few do arrive in the form of the game’s later stages since they serve as some of its best with well-paced levels culminating towards a couple of gags that earn a chuckle or two. Looking at the moment-to-moment gameplay, there could have been an engaging loop of rapidly solving puzzles before moving on to the next unpredictable one, taking any afforded seconds to hurriedly concoct a ridiculous solution. Unfortunately, the game misses that mark.
McPixel 3 is mercifully short, clocking in at around three to five hours depending on how familiar one is with point-&-click adventures, but those few hours do drag. Some fun can be had finding the game’s more clever solutions but overuse of low-effort jokes & nonexistent sound effects outside repetitive music make it difficult to recommend to most.
McPixel 3 is out now for Linux, Mac, PC, Nintendo Switch, & Xbox Series X|S. Game Rant was provided a PC code for this review.
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