LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories Review: Lovely

When life quite literally revolves around an apartment block, join me in this review of LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories on Steam, coming to the Switch.

LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories is a charming point and click puzzle game currently available on Steam. If you hate sentimentalism, laughed during Sleepless Seattle and have a penchant for spitting on puppies, leave this one alone and leave it to the folks with heart.

Note that this is a LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories review based on the Steam code. If you’re a Nintendo Switch user, you’ll be pleased to hear it’ll be out on the 28th May.

The gameplay, literally, revolves around a single apartment building. Within its dwellings consists several individuals all living their lives, often with heartbreak, ‘the ones that got away’ and so on. Little does anyone realise what goes on behind closed doors, but all the characters share a common theme: they’re human.

LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories Review – PC Via Steam

This isn’t an 8MM story or a reference to Sharon Stone vehicle, Sliver; a voyeuristic insight into decadent swingers or those with dark secrets. Instead, the mini-stories feature arcs that we can all relate to – either directly or with that superpower you have under the hood called empathy.

LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories Review - Beats
Beats. Source: Steam

You’re provided with a couple of snapshots – Polaroids, if you will, that depict the past or present. The task at hand is to match up these paths to conclude a story. This might mean reliving a childhood memory, then switching to the present and reconnecting with a friend. How do you shift back and forth in time? By rotating the building. Just make sure you peak at 88mph.

Manoeuvring around the apartment is Japaneasy as you can drag up, down, left, and right with the left mouse, rotate with the right and zoom in with the mouse wheel. With four sides to the building, it’s like a stripped-down Rubik’s Cube where two sides of the block will be in the past, the other two in the future.

Take A Picture

The game is split into chapters, represented by a photo album. To the left of each page of four images in the past, to the right, the present. After the first introductory puzzle, you’ll have one or two stories on the go so you can flitter about the place on a whim without being locked to one path, but note that you may still get stuck on one or two of them.

LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories Review - Rotate
Rotate. Source: Steam

Like the Sixth Sense, clues are indicated by the colour red, and despite LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories looking very lovely on a visual level, the palette is very subdued, so the red is as prominent as those red high heels you wore to the convenience store under the guise of Julie. We all know your name is Ben. Sometimes these visual clues are a bit of a stabiliser as LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories can get surprisingly tricky.

On some occasions, you’ll need each part of the building to line up nicely to solve a problem; other times, you’ll have to solve a few of the others until you can unlock the next.

On one occasion, I was stuck, and without a hint system, resorted to the ‘click everywhere’. Surprisingly, this didn’t work, and it undid all that hard work of making me feel relaxed and ended up restarting the game. This fixed this issue (involves opening a door for a kid – without giving anything away). In my first attempt, the door could not be opened, but it opened the first time on the second playthrough. 

Dr Feel-Good

What’s weird about it is that nothing precedes it, so it could have been a bug. Speaking of which, there were two points where I had zoomed in but could not zoom out. It was neither the mouse nor the keyboard – it simply undid itself after completing two different puzzles. It didn’t seem like a design choice as it restricted what could be seen on-screen at one time. Ignoring the restart, these were the only flaws.

LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories Review - Cafe
Cafe. Source: Steam

But let’s get that out of the way and also the level of difficulty, so we can finish on a high note. Not all of the puzzles are intuitive, and without a hint system, it can get a little frustrating. Some of the stories may be easily interpreted, others, not so clear. Personally, I like that ambiguity as I can insert my own stories and put a spin on it. Unfortunately, this can mean that knowing where to look can be a real shot in the dark.

There aren’t any spoken words in the game, and the only text displayed is for tutorial purposes – hence why it can be a challenge to know what to do next. LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories, from Rocketship Park, can be completed in one sitting, but there will be several times you’ll be up and down the building looking for clues like a kangaroo in heat. But… it’s rewarding once you do find those clues.

LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories is such a feel-good experience, no doubt helped by the gorgeous theme tune and folk-like music throughout. It’s so calming, so… uplifting, that any signs of your inner Hulk coming out to smash your overpriced keyboard is soon subdued by these comforting sounds. The same applies to the graphics, too. For a game that is set in one location throughout, your stay never feels stagnant.

The presentation is slightly dreamlike – there are no sharp edges as such, and LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories resembles a safety blanket – a diorama of emotions and individual stories that bring all of the residents together in some way. We’re all in it together and all that jazz, but it doesn’t feel as corny as that line.

LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories Review Summary

I’d like to think you’ll come away with the same glow as I did after playing this game. It might not necessarily change your life, but LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories is a feel-good experience throughout, irrespective of that ‘one bit’ of reloading. If you’re not in a hurry, pick this one up on Steam and find the one that got away.