Delight. That’s the abridged review of Boxville, the point and click adventure from Triomatica Games, available now on PC. Released at the end of September, I had the opportunity to cover the game recently, courtesy of a review code from the developers.
Let me serve up an opinion from the get-go: the 2-in-1 animated film and puzzle game is a good marketing line, but it’s heavier on the latter. There aren’t extended cutscenes or exposition, but consuming the stunning backgrounds, character designs, and general ambience will have you flicking the passive/pro-active switch on the side of your neck. Mine’s permanently of the first one.
You aren’t so much watching the events in Boxville, but as stated, there’s a lot to admire, and if you’re a fan of illustration and enjoy the likes of Growbot, you’ll love this. Take out all the animation, and each scene is absolutely beautiful, paired with some uplifting music and, well… let’s stop swooning and move on to the actual gameplay and the premise.
As per the Kickstarter post, the game takes place in Boxville, and when we join, some unexplained earthquakes have shaken up the lives of its residents. Taking your pet, Rusty, for a game of catch, a judder sends them both off the edge of the building, which results in the two being split up. The game’s goal is to find and rescue Rusty while doing errands for your neighbours.
There isn’t any dialogue in the game, appealing to a broader audience, but there isn’t any text or clutter on the screen that spoils the artwork. Interact with an NPC, and they’ll project their predicament in the style of a storyboard (without any words); then you have to work out how to solve their problem, then move on to the next. The controls are easy as it’s a point and click, but despite the game promoting a chilled experience, don’t expect to fly through this as there aren’t any hint systems, a.k.a. hotspots.
It took me a little while to get used to interacting with the environments as the cursor seldom changes from the default hand/wire icon. Using an inventory item with the background will light up, but only subtly. And yes, there are a couple of ‘try combining all the items’ scenarios – at least for me, which involved making a handle out of wire. It didn’t make sense, but it ended up working. While other point and clicks are about having a chinwag for the locals, Boxville makes up for its lack of conversations through mini-games/puzzles.
Slide To The Left
There are a few fun tile slider games here – all compulsory but not difficult. I particularly enjoyed these and similar puzzles of moving fuses to power a device or switching balls (heh) for something else. Though there isn’t a hint system, the storyboards from the NPCs make it clear what you need to do or indicate what you’re looking for. And, irrespective of the lack of dialogue, the narrative is very clear, and quite enchanting.
Boxville didn’t push me to my limits once – not because it was super easy, but I consistently felt good playing this little indie game. How long the game lasts is as subjective as these very reviews, but it took me a couple of hours to finish, and for achievement hunters, there’s no concern for missing anything for a 100% trophy stash. That’s irrelevant, in my opinion, as this game’s story and feel-good factor make it worthy of your time.
I knew Boxville was being made in Ukraine at the time of the Kickstarter (posted in November 2021), and I didn’t feel compelled to mention it then. Given the current global climate, I’ll skip past it once more and say that Triomatica Games have created a fantastic debut and deserve your attention regardless of anything else. Do give this game a look – especially if you enjoy puzzles, point and clicks, and animation – even better if you’re like me and love all three. Recommended!