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FixFox is part puzzle game, part sci-fi adventure, all chill

Say it six times fast

FixFox is a delighful name to say. I keep calling it Fikfok, once by mistake and then the rest of the time on purpose. You are Vix (vikfikfok), an fox wot fixes things in a distant future, where humans started to gene-splice themselves with animals for the convenience of having, for example, lovely warm fur. This is a step I would 100% take; even as I write this in the office I am wrapped in a blanket I brought in from home, and my fingers are still cold. I would be less able to repair things using bits of tape and coins I found in holes in the ground, but then I am not a mechanic.

Vix is a mechanic, although they are laughed at by their compatriots for being quite a bad one. They have a sentient tool box called Tin, but misadventure means all Vix's conventional tools are lost. In the course of a pretty meaty preview build I got to explore a strange, cuboid planet, top-down stylee, and repair things for a buncha robots. But there are loads of other aspects to FixFox - a preoccupation with food, a kind of space-sokoban game, a story that hints at mystery and evolution and time. Part puzzle game, part sci-fi adventure, part fok.

Cover image for YouTube videoFixFox Cozy Trailer

Part one of being Vix is exploring the planet and finding stuff to repair. Pirates have hidden stashes of stuff indicated by a lil glimmer on the map as you zoom past on your scooter, and you can steal all the things in them for yourself. In the Salty Desert, a dry, rocky, orangey place, these stashes are mostly full of coins, plasters, and the odd bit of scrap metal, but different locations will yield different stolen fruit. It's these odds and ends that you repurpose as tools, since each has one or more traits corresponding to something a regular tool does. You can even search by keyword to find what you need in your objective menu.

If you need to tape some frayed wires back together, for example, then your favourite would be electrical tape. But since you lost that, you can use a plaster, cos that's adhesive, and therefore also has the Tape quality. At one point I did't have a plaster, but I did find a rogue postage stamp I'd forgotten I picked up. Voila, also a sticky friend to repair wires. You can unscrew screws with something Flat, like a coin or, perhaps, a spatula. So FixFox encourages a bit of lateral thinking. Sometimes these mechanic jobs are required for story progress, but others times they're just things people would like done, for which they'll pay you with a new item, like a banana.

Or sometimes you get a meal token, which were my favourite times. You exchange them for a local speciality dish, and the game asks nothing of you except to sit and eat it, bite by bite - although you should also pay attention to the conversation happening at the same time. These little food interludes are lovely, a nice sort of roleplay at being a hard workin' fox mechanic. Num num num. I quite liked making sure that Vix always had a sandwich in their inventory. That just felt nice. I don't know if the sandwiches and cookies in the game are actually useful. Beyond being a sandwich, you know.

Part two is that you have to be careful not to rob too many of the Free Pirate Brigade stashes, or fix too many things. Both these are on a sort of countdown, and if you do too many of either then the Pirates or the Order Of Tools will turn up and requisition any of the illegally useful things you have on your person (the former because you nicked your stuff from their stashes, and the latter because they are sort of tool purists who object to any unsanctioned toolery). Thankfully, you can reset that timer at any radio in the area, plus getting new tools doesn't seem to be too much of a hassle if they end up getting confiscated. FixFox appears to be mostly a chill, non-violent game about helping some robots.

I'd like FixFox enough if that were all it was - just goin' around being a rogue odd job fox - but there's a story as well. It was hard to pick up the real shape of it based on my preview build, but it appears to involve a cryogenically frozen, un-spliced human, and a missing beacon keeper who should have been keeping a beacon. I also have no idea why the planet is populated entirely by robots, but it is. There's a very sleepy AI computer as well. Also, sometimes the planet just... twists around by 90 degrees. On at least one occasion, I had to go into space and uncouple and move around compartments on a cargo ship (this was my least favourite bit of what I played, but I appreciated the change of pace).

I'm anticipating FixFox's release later this month quite a lot now, because while it is (whisper it) a wholesome game, it also doesn't skimp on being weird and interesting. You have to take new things you find to an oracle who will tell you what properties they have. Tin is constantly worried that you're going to die, and will sometimes give you instructions like, "Wait here for a hundred years," which appear as quests in your quest log. Except, of course, you're supposed to ignore them. Tin's function as a tool box is just that - a box, with no compartments, so it's just a big jumble you have to scrabble through. I found an area called the Ceramic Lake and after a bit of inspection realised it was an old, mostly empty swimming pool.

It's all a pleasingly analogue take on the far flung future, where you load your save game by slotting a casette tape into the top of the screen, and sentient fridges are fixed with plasters and coins by a nice fox. I sort of don't want the story to amount to anything huge and metaphorical, but I think it will.

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Alice Bell avatar

Alice Bell

Deputy Editor

Small person powered by tea and books; RPS's dep ed since 2018. Send her etymological facts and cool horror or puzzle games.