When I first cast my eyes upon Boxed In from Red Chain Games my mind went immediately to Block Out which was a neat little 3D Tetris game I played on PC circa 1990.
The original Block Out on DOS PC
While the visual aspect is similar, Boxed In is a colour match title and not a Tetris clone. This means that the bricks are coming towards you rather than away from you in survival mode and rather than shift them you’ll use your trusty hand blaster to change the colour of a brick in an attempt to have three or more of them in a straight line touching. When you manage this, they’ll explode and take away any matching coloured bricks of the same colour that happen to be touching the line in any fashion.
It’s a simple idea and one that has been around for a long time. Boxed In simply moves it into the VR space, although ‘simply’ isn’t quite fair. Red Chain Games have obviously thought about it a little bit and asked the question ‘Well, okay, now we are in VR and can move around, what does that mean?’
Red Chain Games has put some thought into this and it’s clear that Boxed In wasn’t put together in a weekend. Consideration has been put into the games controls, options, game modes and the like. About the only feature I’d love to see included is either more songs while your playing or the ability to import your own playlists.
For one thing, VR means you can get in and around the blocks. No longer do you have the problem of a gap hiding behind another block you can’t see or reach, because now you can walk or teleport deeper into the game board. At least when playing on the horizontal plane. Boxed In also allows you to crank your neck and look up at the roof or look down at the floor. While this adds another challenge in terms of freedom of movement (and a lack thereof) you will need to be careful you don’t play these modes for too long as helmet weight is definitely something to consider over long play sessions. It can be quite intimidating in survival mode to have the roof coming down to crush you and is worth playing at least once.
Who are Red Chain Games?
We are a team of two and we’ve been in the games industry for quite some time. Richard Smith started work at Codemasters (where he worked on the “LMA Manager” series) and then went to work at Rebellion (working on “Delta Force: Urban Warfare” and “Sniper Elite”). I met the other half of Red Chain Games, Dean Baker, while at Codies. He was a designer on “Colin McRae Rally 2” and then he went to work at Evolution Studios on “WRC”. When we started the company we unintentionally ended up working on simulation software for the golf industry. About two years ago we decided it was time to get back into mainstream gaming. A friend of mine had purchased the Vive and I couldn’t wait to play it. He lugged it over and set it up in my lounge. The first thing he got me to play was “Zombie Training Simulator” and that was it – I was hooked! The very next day I spoke to Dean and said “we have to get involved in this”. So we both got a Vive and the rest, as they say, is history!
Dean pitched “Boxed In” to me at the beginning of 2017, he described it as a “First Person Puzzle”. We spent a year on it (while still working on the golf sim stuff – because that pays the bills). We knew we had something good when my wife (a non-gamer, who is never too shy to tell me what she thinks of my work) actually enjoyed playing it and spent 20 minutes in it!
A picture tells a thousand words so a quick play on YouTube must be several billion. Have a quick look at the game in action (and me playing it) right here –
At $5.99 USD (~$7.50 AUD), Boxed In is at the right price point. If it was a slap dash weekend job I’d expect it to be a couple of dollars cheaper but as I mentioned earlier, you can see that Red Chain Games have put the extra effort into the title. While this isn’t likely to satisfy those looking for visceral action, thrilling adventure or a spectacular virtual experience (Boxed In is only about 150MB installed), it is going to click with a particular audience. Children, the non-gamer spouse, first time VR players or simply those looking for a more sedate and serene experience will enjoy their time with Boxed In. It’s a polished spin on a classic genre.
IMPORTANT: I should mention that you can play the game without a HTC Vive or Oculus Rift VR helmet and just use a regular desktop setup. For the purposes of this review though I did not test this.
Boxed In is available now on Steam for PC. Head over to the Steam page here – http://store.steampowered.com/app/664210/Boxed_In/