Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
Are you sick of all the long tutorials that hold your hand through convoluted controls and the latticework of objectives found in most modern games? Do you pine for the days of classic adventures that just dropped you in an environment and expected you to figure out the rest? Are you searching for a tight, enclosed space to free you from the wide-open vistas of open-world game design? Do you enjoy the sight of multi-colored polyhedrons? Assuming that you answered “yes” to all, kind sir and/or madam, perhaps I can interest you in the claustrophobic exploration of Box Life.
This game has no relation to the charming Nintendo DS puzzler by the same name. Box Life is a first-person adventure in the vein of Portal or Gravity Bone. Story is nonexistent, with terse text prompts only appearing when the player collects a new power-up. A “Metroidvania” with little more than one room, the player must explore to collect skills and use those skills in order to collect the colorful polyhedrons and escape.
The whole appeal of the Box Life experience is that rush the player gets from figuring things out on her own, along with the increasing sense of empowerment. There’s also a rather nice Easter egg for players who find more than half of the six “secrets” hidden around the room. This post-game secret hunt is well-worth a second or third playthrough, especially as “escape” will only take about five minutes once you know your way around.