Boxboy is thoroughly charming, and I loved it.
The game is able to teach the player about its mechanics without becoming rote, and its puzzles are clever yet fair. Even the trickier ones can be solved with trial and error (as there are only so many permutations of the number of blocks allowed in each stage), meaning that the player is never going to become stuck or frustrated. That being said, there are more elegant ways of solving certain puzzles, which can net extra rewards. The rewards don’t mean anything (although you can give your little boxboy a superhero cape), so there’s no drive toward compulsive completionism.
I really enjoyed the soundtrack, and I set up a few of the songs on an infinitely looping playlist, which I’ve found works well as focus-inducing background noise for writing and editing.
It’s kind of weird how much I love Boxboy and Thomas Was Alone, the latter of which was an exercise in finding an answer to the question “Can rectangles and squares jumping around in a minimalist platformer make me cry.” (SPOILER: Yes. Yes they can.)
Back when Crispy’s was trying to get money to develop Tokyo Jungle, one of the execs at Sony was worried that players wouldn’t respond well to nonhuman player characters. I’m not sure where this was coming from, but I actually suspect the opposite is true – I think many players might in fact respond better to abstract avatars. It’s the act of controlling the character that engenders affect; not the character’s design.
I’m also a huge sucker for stories about artificial intelligence being joyously born and overcoming trials through friendship, which is how I interpret both Boxboy and Thomas Was Alone. Apparently nothing melts my heart like the singularity.
( Header image from the Nintendo website )