Sometimes less is more
My BoxBoy review code sat in my inbox for about a week. It's not that I didn't want to play it, but the end of March and even the beginning of April was filled with a ton of games that demanded more of my attention. Not knowing what BoxBoy was, I looked up some gameplay videos, and wasn't taken by what I saw. Something about a boy that looks like a box and there are a lot of puzzles involved. I figured, passing on the review at that time was OK in lieu of bigger, more time consuming titles. Now that the storm has calmed, I was ready to finally dive into BoxBoy. After just beating the first world, which took me all of probably 5 minutes, I saw the immense potential. This was a game that isn't gaining any favors through gameplay videos. It's a game you have to play to "get." And it's oh so delightful.
At its core, BoxBoy is a straightforward puzzle game, focused on the titular Boy that looks like a Box and his ability to summon various cubes around him to make various shapes. He can then set that object down, or throw it, depending on what the level calls for. It never gets extremely complicated, even in some later levels, though there were occasional levels that had me carefully rethinking my strategy. What's cool about BoxBoy is that despite there being obvious ways to clear an obstacle, you could actually use an alternate solution.
For example, you don't learn about hooks until a later World, but you can already utilize this tactic earlier. Hooks are essentially blocks that look like upside down Ls. When you create them, you can jump and hook yourself on a ledge and then fuse into the blocks one by one, pulling your little BoxBoy up on the ledge. It's a cool technique that completely changes up the way you can solve some levels. So while some ledges might not require you to perform the Hook maneuver, you can still choose to play it that way.
Each level does come with a set limit on how many boxes you can summon at once, and hence they then revolve around using that given number to figure out the puzzles. Underneath your max summon number is how many boxes you have remaining. You can still complete a level even if you use more than the number of boxes allotted, the only thing you'll lose access to are the collectibles scattered around the level which allow you to "Perfect" them.
BoxBoy is minimalistic in its visuals, not relying on colors, and only simple objects. And I'm not counting this as a negative, trust me. The visuals work for BoxBoy as they never detract from the actual puzzle solving. The sound and music are also very reminiscent of old-school gameboy games. If this wasn't played on a Nintendo 3DS, then one could mistake it for an old school gameboy title, save for its very smooth gameplay.
I also loved that BoxBoy didn't grade me on various aspects on completing a level. I know this is a subjective opinion, but I normally hate getting graded on how I do on levels. Even though I hate it, it always compels me to go back and try to do better. BoxBoy has an extremely scoring mechanic. You can simply Perfect a level by collecting all the Crowns. That to me is perfection.
Those looking for a tough challenge, might not ever get it. While I've stated that a few puzzles got me stumped for a bit, that head-scratching moment lasted only a few minutes. I didn't mind this. I'm a baby when it comes to puzzles, so having them never reach a level of "impossible," isn't a detractor for me.
There is also an in-game shop where you spend your acquired points on various knick-knacks like costumes for BoxBoy, music from the levels, helpful hints or even bonus levels that task you with picking up collectibles in a certain amount of time. These things certainly add to the game's length, but won't be where you spend the majority of your time.
The fact that it's priced at only $4.99, which is the perfect price for the amount of challenge you're getting, as well as the length. There are only a handful of eShop games that I can wholeheartedly recommend and BoxBoy just made that list.