The Rezzed section at this year’s EGX featured another eclectic mix of games from studios large and small. From the long-running Worms and Oddworld series, to new IPs like Gangbeasts and Ironcast, the show offered up plenty of options for the discerning EGX attendee.
However, it was the cute and cardboard-y visage of Bounce, the red box that adorned the booth poster for Unbox, which drew my eyes initially. The character has such a simple, memorable design – reminiscent of Sackboy – now I just need to wait for the inevitable plushie toy! OK, enough about the game’s mascot – what about the game?!
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• Developer: Prospect Games
• Publisher: Prospect Games
• Previewed on: PC
• Release Date: May 2016
Unbox is an action platformer where you control a self-delivering box. Being a relatively new invention, the postal service has decided to test this technology by letting it loose on the world. This premise sees you take control of one such box as you head out to explore the game’s large, diverse worlds.
At EGX, the team at Prospect Games were showing off the tropical island location from the single-player campaign. Built in mere weeks, it is impressive how polished and cohesive the world is. As you might expect with a player character made from cardboard, the water surrounding the various islands acts as a hazard to our cube-shaped postal hero as it trundles towards its next adventure.
The goal for each area is usually pretty obvious. In the case of the islands, there is a giant tower that is impossible to miss – scaling the tower will allow you to progress to the next location in the game; however that is not a simple task. To aid you, you can earn stamps which allow you to progress more easily. Similar to stars in Super Mario 64, you do not need to earn all of them to unlock the next area.
How do you earn them? Well, by being helpful, actually. There are other boxes strewn around the world looking for your help. Their quests can involve time-based challenges, puzzles or combat set-pieces (yes, I said combat set-pieces).
Completing these tasks earns you the stamps you require to progress but these can be challenging. As you might imagine, manoeuvring a box around the place can be difficult. Thankfully, the game’s core mechanic helps. As the name implies, you have the ability to ‘unbox’ yourself – which acts as a form of double jump. However, each time you unbox, you lose life – so balancing your need to speed across the map whilst avoiding hazards makes the moment-to-moment gameplay a constant spin of the roulette wheel.
The basic tools for movement the developers give you are enough to make the game a joy but it is in the multiplayer modes that the game truly shines. Participating in a four-player splitscreen race to the finish had me going over each hill and valley of emotion at the booth. I was cursing my luck one minute as I plunged once again into the icy ocean depths and ecstatic the next as I daringly unboxed multiple times in a row to gain the lead. It felt like playing Mario Kart with the training wheels taken off.
Unbox is currently on Steam Greenlight. If you would like a funny, colourful and challenging platformer to play with your friends, show your support for the game and vote to get it published.