Have you ever felt Boxed in?
South Africa’s fledgling game development community has seen a significant surge of activity over these past few years. From Viscera Cleanup Detail to the recent Genital Jousting, there’s certainly a lot to choose from, and the list of games just keeps growing and growing. Recently, a South African Early Access title by the name of Box Maze flew under our radar, and we decided to give it a go.
The game is a single-screen platform endeavor whereby players take control of a sentient box named Cubert. Our dear Cubert is on a mission to find the love of his life, and like most things related to passion (not really), his mission is a treacherous journey of traversing loads of maze-like levels. Bottomless pits and destructible scenery are par for the course, as are the legions of similarly box-like jerks who have nothing better to do than to try and put a stop to your lovesick quest. Many just move side-to-side or up-and-down, but some take it upon themselves to run like screaming banshees, seemingly to outpace you. Most must be avoided, but occasionally you’ll need to do the Mario thing and jump on top of them, which may even be used to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. You’ll encounter the odd power-up, such as making you run faster, and each level is littered with cupcakes which are often in out-of-the-way locales but nonetheless count towards a final tally. The choice between score and survival is ever-present.
Box Maze may seem simple, but beneath the cheerful exterior lies a fiendish example of solid platform design. The path to the exit may not always be apparent, and even when it is, you’ll find getting there to quite demanding. There’s also no checkpoints to speak off, so expect to start at the beginning once you die. Add moving platforms and sadistic enemy placement to the mix, and you have a recipe for quite a challenging experience. Trial and error will see you through, and the developer is kind enough to have added a save feature to balance out the difficultly, though I must say I much rather prefer trying to reach the end without having to resort to saving and loading. It has that “just one more try” quality that the most endearing of games possess. And with hundreds of levels on offer, you’ll be playing it for quite some time to come.
However, being in Early Access, the game still has a few issues and requires a bit of polish, both in its design and presentation. Gameplay-wise, the levels could do with just a tad of editing to make them flow better. And while new gimmicks are gradually introduced, I feel more variety in the design would really help things a lot. Sound and eyecandy are the departments that need the most work, with acceptable-yet-repetitive music and rather rudimentary visuals. The graphics do their job without looking ugly, but the levels could really do with a visual overhaul to make them more appealing. More variety in the blocks, some more attractive scenery, additional color, and more interesting backgrounds would go a long lay towards making the game even better still.
Box Maze is a fun little platform game that gets the formula right but still needs some polish. The developer clearly has the aptitude for making a good platforming experience, and I’m very eager to see what Box Maze will look like in its final form. It also leaves me excited to see what games he’ll be creating for us in the future. If you’re at all keen to take it for a spin, pop on over to its official Steam page and it try it for yourself.