Our Score: 8/10
In the mind-blowing save-the-day adventure McPixel 3, the titular would-be hero uses wild yet entertaining mayhem to avert one catastrophe after another at every step.
In the mysteriously titled sequel McPixel 3, McPixel returns for a second appearance in this utterly ludicrous duology. The best way to characterise any of them is as visual comedy machines with a lovably bonkers sensibility, so to call either of them an adventure or puzzle game is kind of missing the point. McPixel 3’s weightless, airy, and frequently laugh-out-loud stupid toy box world will amuse novices, but lovers of the original will also much enjoy its various quality-of-life enhancements.
A MacGuyver-esque blank-faced avatar, McPixel has a habit of urinating and kicking his way to “victory.” McPixel 3’s missions vary from the standard fare of bomb defusing to stopping a runaway train, escaping a tragedy, fighting off a monster kaiju, or winning a sporting event. The player must click on all movable objects and characters in illogical and unexpected sequences to achieve these goals.
The screens in the McPixel games often lead to seemingly random combinations of actions and items that are necessary to advance the tale, which makes them seem like scathing parodies of older, more traditional point-and-click adventure games. McPixel 3 is similar to the original in that it places the player in sequenced, sometimes interconnected, and/or themed sets of micro-levels populated by an eclectic cast of characters, many of whom return in this sequel with improved graphics. The grumpy Uncle Frank, for example, makes a recurring and hilarious cameo, as do the testy snake, caveman, and alien.
Obviously, this isn’t ultra-high definition, which some could argue would diminish the game’s consistently hilarious atmosphere. Despite its pixelated appearance, McPixel 3 looks noticeably better than its predecessor and features numerous innovative gameplay additions that well exceed its competition. There are short bursts of action, timed goals, scenarios spanning multiple rooms, and many more unexpected elements. Throughout the roughly six hours it takes to complete the game’s main material, a sense of gonzo inventiveness and creative curiosity emerges time and time again.
The cash system may incentivize players to “fail” a scene on the first time, since getting 100% on each encounter yields greater rewards, and many of the puzzles here can be solved simply by trying everything (which can also be conveniently accessed after completion). The gold coin score has a Whose Line Is It Anyway–style significance because almost everything is unlocked once the player has completed a significant portion of the level’s objectives. One could see McPixel 3 as a jubilation in futility, since every failed attempt at progress paves the stage for yet more absurdity.
The game is riddled with hidden meanings and messages. There’s not only Steve, but all the possible problem solutions! Steve is just a normal guy who sometimes shows up in strange situations. He takes pleasure in everyday routines that the game randomly destroys. Finding these offbeat tidbits is part of the adventure, and they encourage you to look around and try new things.
Speaking of tunes, McPixel 3’s improved renditions of the first game’s themes are a delight to listen to with some fantastic new music. While we can’t promise you symphonic recreations of the game’s music, we can say that the themes you’ll hear throughout the game sound better and fuller here, with more depth and energy, as they churn away in the background without becoming overbearing.
Newcomers should be cautioned that McPixel 3 shares the overall lack of sound effects from the original title. With the exception of the game’s continuous soundtrack, all sounds are muted during most of the experience. Some may find this option to be annoying, but I think it enhances the comedy and comic timing by giving the inane violence and vulgar toilet humour an air reminiscent of silent films from the 1930s.
McPixel 3 is a frenzy of a game. The absurd results you get from the combination of minigame craziness and point-and-click puzzles keep you laughing the whole way through the game, despite its short length. It’s easy to get frustrated, especially with all the strange answers it offers, but the humour always manages to win out in the end. Even though some of the jokes fall flat, fans of slapstick and other forms of absurd comedy will find much to appreciate.