Box Clever: Boxgame

By Alec Meer on August 11th, 2009 at 7:55 pm.

Something that’s fairly unwise to do while (apparently-possibly-maybe) suffering from swine flu and its attendant raging fever: playing a puzzle-based videogame that cheerfully perverts physics in the name of mind-bending. The innocuously-named Boxgame is the latest from Sophie Houlden, the feather-ruffler behind the satirical Linear RPG, but this time around it’s very much its own game rather than commentary on someone else’s. I don’t quite understand it. But I do like it.

To grab a couple of lazy references (hey, gimme a break – I’ve got pigitis), it’s Portal meets Super Mario Galaxy. As the nameless stickman protagonist navigates the cuboid levels, they rotate smoothly but disorientatingly, flipping the viewpoint by 90 degrees. This happens both when he turns a corner, and when he drops off a ledge. What was previously at a right angle away from your feet immediately runs horizontally across the screen.

There’s fixed, hard logic to it – which is where the Portal reference comes in. It’s often a less forgiving take on those flippity-flip puzzles in the later stages of that game – but gut directional instinct, perseverence and a little luck tended, for me at least, to get me through to many level exits at least as much as did my geometric wits. It’s Escher: the puzzle game in some ways, but if Escher’s bewildering staircases had somehow led somewhere after all.

Later, there’s spikes and keys and switches, which mean giddy freefalling until you land at the right angle is no longer viable. The levels aren’t long, but the trickier ones will involve a fair few restarts and thus having to repeat a string of jumps and dodges. Still – good-looking, agreeably confusing, clever stuff that marks Houlden as another indie developer we’ll have to keep a close eye on. Meantime, she’s got a bunch of her earlier work cunningly hosted here.

Oh, Boxgame’s free and browser-based, but requires the Unity web player plugin to power its 3Dosity, so Linuxian folk may be left in the cold. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a lie down and shiver uncontrollably for six to eight hours.

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23 Comments »

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  1. The Archetype says:

    Interesting.

    Also, from my limited understanding of the swine flu, what you want to do is not die.

    Seriously though, get well soon.

  2. psyk says:

    Unity web player? What is it?

  3. LewieP says:

    Unity web player is the same thing that flashbang used for Off-Road Velociraptor Safari.

    Biggest problem I had with it was that I’m not sure if I solved some of the levels by glitching or by doing the ‘intended solution’ (flashback to Crayon Physics Deluxe), but definitely one of the better ‘proper game’ timewasters I have played in the last few months.

  4. Heliocentric says:

    Most people don’t die from pig kisser disease, but just incase dibs on Alec’s collection of gentlemen’s hats.

  5. Simon says:

    5 mins for the first 10 levels, after that it got HARD :)

  6. FernandoDANTE says:

    Level 14 is a MAJOR MINDFUCK.

  7. Mark says:

    I’m sorry, I just did a double take.
    I could have sworn Alec is suffering with pigtits!

  8. vagabond says:

    Yeah, level 10 is about where I went “this hurts my head too much” and gave up, although after FernandoDANTE’s post I went and tried level 14 out. I enjoyed it much more than any of the previous levels I’d played. I think because it had such wide open areas to just free fall and play around with where you were ending up without having to constantly restart because you’d end up in a pit or on spikes.

    Having had the swine flu a month or so ago, and the regular flu a few years back, I’ll opt for the swine version any day. What you don’t want to do under any circumstances is go with the optional secondary chest infection as you’re recovering from the swine flu. Pneumonia is one of the least funnest things I’ve done in a long time.

  9. FernandoDANTE says:

    Alright, I beat it. Finished the last level BY ACCIDENT, but I did it =D

  10. Tom says:

    have fun

  11. Tom says:

    take a hot toddy and sweat it out

  12. jokermatt999 says:

    Wow, this is one of the few puzzle games I’ve bothered to finish, much less in one sitting. It’s oddly compelling.

  13. Persus-9 says:

    I loved that, it made my brain feel nice. I think part of the reason I’m into gaming is that it sometimes makes me think in interesting new ways. I ended up spending ages on level 15 because I couldn’t find the key, oh dear!

    Also I think Sophie Houlden deserves kudos for the best colour blindness options I’ve ever noticed. I’m not colour blind so I don’t really know what I’m talking about but I haven’t noticed many games that even have colour blindness options (Peggle springs to mind as one) never mind ones where you can just use sliders in the options menu to choose whatever colours you like for the coloured objects in the world.

    Get well soon Alec

  14. Radiant says:

    Whilst this game is lovely it’s not very laptop friendly.
    Trying to play this with a track pad is very fiddly [and throwing joypad instructions in my face isn’t the most helpful thing in the world!].
    Still it’s a great game.

  15. Alex says:

    Finally, a justification for WebGL adoption.

  16. Thants says:

    Radiant: You don’t need to use the mouse or track pad at all.

  17. Ian says:

    Quite clever but kept crashing my browser.

    Completed first 12 levels without too much fuss but there was a shade too much randomness in my success.

  18. Junior says:

    I’m not sure what just happened but I think it was fun.

    My brain gave up on me at level 15, it’s not a good game to be stuck on since no one could possibly communicate where you’re stuck or what you’re supposed to do.

    All it needs now is a healthy dose of time traveling too.

  19. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    I felt like I completed the levels by chance…

  20. EyeMessiah says:

    @”I loved that, it made my brain feel nice. “,
    “Quite clever but kept crashing my browser.”

    I can’t tell if who is talking about swine flu, and who is talking about the game. Maybe I’m infected??

  21. Rei Onryou says:

    Got to level 15 and gave up. For the most part it was guesswork. I couldn’t see the logic. Still fun and interesting though.

  22. Koen Witters says:

    If you like Escher’s staircase, you should definitely check out my game Mystic Mine, which is kind of like an infinite isometric Escher staircase, in a goldmine :).

  23. bonuswavepilot says:

    @Mark: one does not suffer with pigtits, one glories in them.

    Mmmmm, bristling with nipples…