Developer / Publisher – Red Chain Games
Price – US $5.99 / EU €5.99 / UK £4.79
Release Date – December 22nd, 2017
Input – Track Motion Controller
Play Area – Seated, Standing, Roomscale
Store – Steam
Reviewed on – HTC Vive
Boxed In is a fun and simplistic puzzle game, but lacks originality and fails to succeed in VR. This game places you in an empty room, filled with differently-colored cubes. You must match these by color, causing them to disappear and preventing them from reaching the other side. You’re given a laser gun, capable of changing a cube’s color or spawning a new one. This color depends on that of your laser, which changes randomly each time you use it. In “survival” mode, you must prevent ever-spawning cubes from reaching the back wall, which ends the game. In the additional “solitaire” mode, the cubes stay stationary, and your objective is to eliminate them in as few moves as possible.
Boxed In contains options to adjust the number of colors available, the configuration of cubes required to match them, and the direction from which the cubes are creeping. The game has a solid user interface and runs as it should, with the exception of one unexpected crash I encountered. Boxed In can also be played both in VR and on your desktop. The VR mode replaces standard movement controls with a teleporter gun, but otherwise, both modes are exactly the same. Due to the simple nature of Boxed In, however, the VR mode was much less enjoyable.
This game consists of looking at boxes and clicking on them, an activity too simple to justify the extra energy spent in VR, rather than in front of your mouse and keyboard. The settings I mentioned earlier, which adjust the direction the cubes are coming from, also don’t pertain to VR. If cubes are coming down from the ceiling, or up from the floor, it’s incredibly uncomfortable, even painful, to stare directly at them for an entire game. These settings don’t do anything to change up gameplay in the non-vr mode either, but at least non-vr Boxed In doesn’t leave my neck aching.
Boxed In, when played outside VR, isn’t necessarily a bad game and I even had fun with it at times. Rounds are short, lasting no more than a few minutes, requiring very little attention span. The fundamental, unavoidable problem with Boxed In is its originality, or lack thereof. The number of nearly identical games that can be found on app stores as mobile games, or on websites as browser-based games, is simply staggering. The “match falling objects or tiles to clear them” formula is seriously overdone, and holds little place in VR.
This is where Boxed In sets itself apart: rather than most 2D, mobile tile-matching games, it’s three-dimensional and can be played in VR. While the game itself is uninspired, there are relatively few VR games that attempt to copy the mobile market. Still, it’s debatable whether or not you believe that’s a good thing. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, the game itself doesn’t stay entertaining for particularly long- whether in 2D or 3D, in VR or out.
While this might be a decent addition to my VR collection, I’ve been playing it exclusively in non-vr mode, and I can imagine that’s how most people will choose to play.
What would I pay for it? I’d pay $2 for Boxed In, as it provides short bursts of generic entertainment, but doesn’t do anything new or exciting. I would not recommend Boxed In at its $6 price, but if you think it looks cool and enjoy mobile games, picking it up isn’t too much of a risk.
Red Chain Games provided The VR Grid with a review code for this game and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!