Can we fix it? FixFox can!
A long, long time ago… in a galaxy far, far away… you decided to eat some pudding. Not just any pudding, of course, but a delicious-looking pudding that was locked behind a broken fridge (which you managed to deftly repair). Sure, it’s 2 days past the expiration date, but so what? You’ve earned it. It’s not like there are space germs or anything… okay, maybe that was the wrong word to use, as your toolbox flipped out and purged the ship to get rid of the “space germs” (and everything else not nailed down — you included). Good thing your EVA suit got purged with you, otherwise you may have died out there in the cold and desolate vastness of space; luckily, you made it back in time to get a fix-it ticket on a super remote planet inhabited by robots. Duty calls!
Such is the day in the life of a SPACR, a title players will take on in the upcoming cozy sci-fi exploration narrative FixFox. Currently being developed by Rendlike with publishing being taken care of by Joystick Ventures, FixFox provides players with a wholesome and chill mechanically-driven story oozing with personality and puzzles. A go-your-own pace adventure with surprising depth and glorious chiptunes, FixFox eases players in with its casual gameplay, only to cause a full-on addiction that’ll make it hard to quit at any point of the journey.
FixFox has players taking on the role of Vix, a fox-human hybrid, who has been assigned to the planet Karamel in order to bring an ancient beacon back online. In this far-flung future, humans have spliced their genes with animals to ensure the survival of our species, so while Vix’s appearance may be commonplace, her expertise in outdated tech isn’t. Where most SPACRs deal with the latest and greatest in hardware offerings, Vix is as low-tech as they come, which is why she’s the perfect mechanic to deal with centuries-old machinery…
…that is, she would be, but her overprotective talking toolbox, Tin, dumped all her tools as a safety measure upon landing on Karamel. Gathering them wouldn’t typically be an issue, of course, but Karamel happens to be a planet inhabited by robots, and said robots have a powerful religious sect called The Order that believes in a permanent death for any broken down machines. From calculators to cyborgs, once the hardware goes kaput, it’s kaput for good; to ensure this, they’ll confiscate all tools — yours especially.
So, you know, you do the best you can while you’re out here on this robot-inhabited rock, fixing broken wires with bandaids and stamps, unscrewing plates with coins and spatulas, and tinkering with the ancient tech to bring the beacon back on and fulfill your duty… and blow open an entire mystery centuries in the making while you’re at it.
My first impressions with FixFox were positive — I love the music, those delightful chiptunes providing a soothing soundtrack that never stopped being enjoyable. The puzzle aspect of fixing machinery was downright charming, my favorite being reconnecting wires together with a literal bandaid. The world of Karamel was far deeper than I had anticipated, with centuries of history to sift through. I even found traipsing around the map to be wholly entertaining, almost akin to travelling in No Man’s Sky.
With that being said, there’s still a little bit of… well, fixing (haha) that needs to happen before release — understandably so, of course, considering I played the alpha version.
For one thing, the dialogue, while extremely well-written (when it isn’t repetitive), can get a little obtrusive at times. That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate it — verbose characters like Tin give the game its personality — but it would sometimes interfere with the goal at hand to the point where it was more fun to forgo the major quests and bunk off instead. Additionally, while current tasks are outlined in the menu, markers are not always provided in terms of where to go next. This might be a positive for some players (Morrowind fans, rejoice!), but others might feel whiplash from the sudden change of mild hand-holding to being dropped entirely.
Case in point, there’s a portion of the game that wants players to deploy signal boosters in an effort to extend a botnet. The mainframe gives players a glimpse of a map once to generally outline where to go before sending them off to fulfill the task. Unfortunately, there are a few issues with this particular quest — first, the previously explored world map is wiped before this stage of the game, and landmarks actually scramble afterwards, so the places the mainframe is pointing to may not actually be anywhere near where they are in the game world. To make matters worse, there’s no indicator on the tasklist or world map, nor can players speak with the mainframe or their toolbox companion for any clues.
Essentially, the way to solve this is to explore every single pixel of every single city on the map — on foot — so you don’t miss a secret staircase leading up a rock formation. It’s briefly explained that you’ll need to choose a high place, but it’s not clear at all where that could mean, either in a city, the wilderness, or somewhere else entirely. Every puzzle and quest up to that point had required some brain power, certainly, but cues were readily accessible if I needed to refer to them again. This one in particular was like looking for a needle in a haystack, except I didn’t know what the needle looked like or where the haystack was located. I did eventually find both locations an hour later (roughly 1/5th of my entire playtime); to save any others the trouble, check the Ceramic Lake and the Donut Rock cities. You’re welcome.
Communication issues aside, FixFox was not easy to stop playing; I can easily see this being the next addicting casual experience to play after a stressful day at work. If scootering around the wilderness to chill chiptunes as you fix machinery in silly ways, camping out with your best friend to a cozy fire as you watch the sunset, chowing down on great food with good convo, and exploring a surprisingly rich world with a deep narrative sounds like a good time to you, then don’t sleep on FixFox. There’s a lot of moving parts, but this clever fox somehow makes it work!
Be sure to check out FixFox on Steam today!