Sawbuck Gamer

Box Life

Think Inside The Box

Box Life has one room but plenty of secrets.

By Derrick Sanskrit • June 6, 2012

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.

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521 Responses to “Think Inside The Box”

  1. ShrikeTheAvatar says:

    Played through it… pretty fun.  

    I wish there was a little more to finding the secrets than just looking very closely, but still enjoyable.

  2. stakkalee says:

    Nice mechanics, took me about 20 minutes to figure everything out.  I have a few quibbles with the animation (I thought some of the effects like the fireball and the blocks disappearing were a bit too slow) and I think the hiding places for some of the secrets are a bit of a cheat but overall a fun diversion.  I’m still puzzled about whether there’s a purpose to the gold cubes AND what, if anything, to do with the polygon explosion.  I could definitely see turning this into a longer game with multiple puzzle rooms and a wider variety of powers; throw in some of the abilities from yesterday’s Sawbuck, like the spring jump and the gravity reversal, and you’ve got hours of problem-solving fun.

  3. Aaron Riccio says:

    Is there a puzzle surrounding the ability to use the mouse to look around? I stopped playing after being unable to turn around.

    • phoenix4 says:

      you need a plug in mouse.  the trackpad locks when you’re walking, so you can only use it if you’re standing still

  4. blue vodka lemonade says:

    Okay, so I started playing, got bored, closed the window. A few minutes later I opened it again for another go. It’s completely, and I mean completely, different: different colors, different areas, nothing about it looks the same. Is it randomized?

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Weird. I had to restart because the mouse wasn’t working the first two times I booted up, but all three times, it looked the same. Was sort of hoping it’d be randomized — the problem with a one-room Metroidvania is that it’s over all too quickly, time-consuming secrets be damned.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

         It kinda seems like I was somehow playing the Ludum Dare submission instead of the ore polished game proper, but I have no idea how it could have happened; all I did was refresh the page to play again, and it was something different. I’m guessing it was ookiness on the part of the webpage rather than anything actually supposed to be part of the game.