Pile Up! Box By Box – A PS4 Review For Squares

Into cubism? Mix that with LittleBigPlanet aesthetics, horrendous jumping abilities, but wicked co-op play, it's Pile Up! Box By Box on PS4. That's what it is.

Pile Up! Box By Box has some of the worst jumping abilities in any single game I’ve played of late, but it’s also one of the best co-ops ever. That’s quite an opening declaration, so here’s some sketchy evidence, your honour.

You play a cardboard box in the game, and if this inanimate object is new to you, it’s effectively a 3D object with six sides, no appendages, thus no opposable thumbs. As a platform puzzle game, this immediately poses a problem, but through the magic that is videogames, they can slide all over the pace with great haste and pick up other stackables along the way through… box magic?

Even Gandalf the Cube couldn’t create a spell powerful enough to match the nimbleness of that fat plumber, and as a result, these boxes do not jump very high what.so.ever. Pile Up! Box By Box – a title from Seed by Seed and HandyGames – isn’t a game I’d typically say is a precision platformer, but as you have to be so… precise with where you jump from, well… go figure.

Pile Up! Box By Box Review

Pile Up! Box By Box - Fairway
Fairway. Source: PR

Lilypads to leapfrog over to get to the other side would have any platform protag clear in half a step, but for these squares (3D, of course), it’s a catastrophe and the number of times we cocked up in trying to get across a tiny section was ridiculous. But with no loss of health, collectables, sanity or having to return to an out of reach checkpoint, this wasn’t rage-inducing. Frustrating, yes, but in a fun way.

What perhaps mutes that severity of diabolical platforming skills (you play a box), is the co-op element. Pile Up! Box By Box can be played as a solo campaign, and that’s fine – it works. However, getting a friend involved is soooo much better. Due to the physics of the characters, you can stack them and reach new heights or have the other trigger a pressure switch to unlock a bridge for the other to ascend.

Let’s Do This Together

But the real highlight is being able to carry teammates – both literally and figuratively. Without having to worry about a Sam Bridges gravity-defying stackfest, you can carry as much as you like without it affecting your already mediocre jumping skills. Why is this important? If your teammate is struggling to get through a platform section or eliminate those classic co-op lines of “follow me. NO! This way! STOP GOING OFF-SCREEN!”, you can stack your teammates on top of you and carry them through a section, creating harmonious bliss.

Pile Up! Box By Box - Mini games
Mini games. Source: PR

It’s important that you’re friends with your co-op buddy(ies) as the worlds in Pile Up! Box By Box are big. We got to the point where we were playing one stage for so long, we were worried that if we couldn’t find a save point, we’d have to switch off the telly, leave the PS5 and come back to it. Fortunately, the game autosaves, so you can jump back to your hub from the main menu and continue as you will.

The hub provides access to the multiple worlds on offer, but arguably the most important aspect: to unlock new costumes! Swoon – customisation. There’s not much scope for costumes on a box, but they work well here, and the sushi costume, while 100% cosmetic, made the experience much better for my kin. They’re half tuna. But even better – there’s an arcade mode where you can play mini-games with your comrades. They’re quick-fire distractions but entertaining nonetheless. The only downside is you have to unlock them first.

Pile Up! Box By Box - Need a lift
Need a lift? Source: PR

Pile Up! Box By Box is a homage to classic 3D open-world platformers and somehow manages to be a fun experience for a game that features one of the worst jumping skills in the history of cardboard boxes. It lacks a story but doesn’t need one as the worlds you inhabit have enough charm, quests and hidden objects to keep boxed-in (no?) for some time. There’s a LittleBigPlanet feel to the game, not for the obvious reason of cardboard boxes, but there’s a handcrafted feel to each area, and the cardboard ramps that you and your teammates have to slide onto at the same time to access another location are a nice touch.

In short, you shouldn’t have high hopes for a cardboard box to jump the simplest of gaps, but somehow the game works. I maintain that Pile Up! Box By Box is one of the most tranquil of co-ops as you aren’t fighting for loot, getting in the way of each other or falling out. If a player struggles with a section, you can work together instead of passing the controller. It’s refreshing not to witness any tantrums, and therefore, a title I recommend.

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