LifeisXbox’s Pile Up! Box by Box review | I got the chance to play Seed by Seed’s “Pile Up! box by box”. This french game is published by THQ Nordic’s HandyGames and delivers its players an equal side charming and challenging puzzler platformer where you aren’t so much thinking outside of the box as with it. Alright, enough intro-ing, time to square up and get into this review.
We played Pile Up! Box by Box! for 6.5 hours on PC. This game is only available for PC.
What we liked!
- Gameplay: [I’d like to preface this part by saying that I played Pile Up! Box by Box solo, but you can play with up to 4 players.] In this puzzle-platformer, you go through various worlds to restore the suddenly laid barren hub world named the boxing square. In these levels, you puzzle, stack, jump and collect your way through the level. Sprinkled both across your path and well out of your way are these orange currency cubes you can use to buy papercraft costumes over in the hub world. Luckily, these aren’t the only collectibles, as you’ll occasionally see a cylinder off the beaten path that’ll require some out-of-the-box thinking to get to. Collect enough of these to unlock a hidden area in each level, which will hold, you probably guessed it, another even rarer collectible. Besides searching high and low, you’ll also be stacking high and low to progress through the rooms in each level. Be curious, as this will usually reward your boxling with finding an arcade cabinet that contains a minigame that can be played later.
- Graphics: In Pile Up! Box by Box, you’re a box. Your friends are boxes. The animals, surroundings, tables, pumpkins, you name it, it’s made out of cardboard boxes. Well, that and other common art supplies. This makes the various papercraft worlds very colorful as if you just stepped onto the set of a school play. The variety of unlockable costumes add some nice flair to the experience. You can be a bee, an old CRT TV, or an orange [yes those are square here, don’t be silly]. It’s clear that a lot of attention to detail went into this style, and it paid off big time.
- Audio: Pile Up! Box by Box has a lovely and soft xylophone-guided soundtrack. It’s very easy on the ears. So much so that there are times where it can go silent for a little while and you won’t really notice. That isn’t to say that it’s absent but more that the ambient sounds of each locale are well complemented by it. The sound effects can get a bit repetitive at times, but due to the relatively short length of the game, this should not become an issue.
- Puzzles: If you want to traverse the levels or get some of the many hard-to-get collectibles or currency, you will have to think “out of the box”-ling. Each level will make use of at least one or more puzzle blocks. As such you have sonic like spring pads, frog blocks with extendable tongues, bombs, etc… It’s these that’ll make up the bulk of your puzzling, and getting creative with them will also allow you to platform and skip certain steps of a room. Oftentimes, not all the parts will be supplied to you in a room, and you will either have to go to a side room or try to bring as much stuff with you from a previous section. There are luckily zones that will force you to leave it all behind, but that’s probably for the best. My no box left behind policy often lead to me having more blocks than I should, meaning I could brute force or cheese a small number of rooms. I don’t know about you, reader, but I love it when I can beat the way stuff is designed.
- Minigames: For adventurous boxlings, there are 4 minigame cabinets that can be found hidden in the game’s levels. I managed to find three of these, and play two. First off is a round of boxling soccer. This is exactly what you’d expect from a soccer minigame. Pick up the football [don’t worry, it’s a box] and get it to the other side’s goal. Adversaries can try to snag or bump it away from you, so you best rely on your teammate or play evasive. Next up is the basketball minigame. Here one person picks up the hoop to wear as a hat and has to keep the others from scoring points by avoiding the boxes thrown at them. Just like the soccer, this got hectic real fast, but we were roaring with laughter.
- Delivery not included: For a game clearly focused on playing and solving puzzles together, I do miss the option to invite another player to my game. Especially since when I tried to use Steam remote play for a minigame session with a friend, we could not get it to work. Perhaps this will be addressed in a future patch, so your mileage may vary.
What we disliked
- Story: For most games, having a story is part and parcel to tie all the levels together. Alas, the devs must have been out during delivery for this one. Right as you enter the bustling hub world, a dark wave sweeps across and turns it all barren and deserted. With this as the setup for the self-contained mini-stories found in each level, I’m sort of lacking a reason why this happened. It most certainly does not detract from the gameplay or my enjoyment, but it’s a missed opportunity.
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