Hands On: Use Your Brain Or Get Boxed In!

I will admit that I’ve occasionally played some of those color matching mobile games to pass the time. You know what I’m talking about. Those games where you have to match up colorful bubbles, or fruit, or precious gemstones. The point is that while they were fun, they were always just a simple diversion to waste a bit of time. However, never did I think I would become trapped in one of those types of games inside virtual reality. With the fear of being crushed by bright colorful cubes egging me on to become a matchmaker of renown.

Well, that’s exactly what Boxed In, the debut VR title from Red Chain offers. With veterans from studios like Codemasters, Rebellion, and Evolution Studios, this small studio is now taking its own approach to virtual reality. Boxed In will be released for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift on December 22. I got to give the game a try on the Vive and was surprised by how challenging the game could be and how much careful planning it took to stay ahead, especially in the game’s ‘Survivor’ mode. People who get easily addicted to those match-up games will probably love this one.

Upon entering Boxed In, I found myself in a ‘Burtonesque’ room made of black and white tiles, with no exits. When suddenly colorful cubes start moving in on me. Not panicking yet, I start matching up the cubes and they explode – taking the cubes of the same color around them with them in a kamikaze extravaganza. There are a few options when it comes to the type of matches you want to make, which I found refreshing actually. I could either create a line of three matches or a block of four.

Take Your Time Or Try To Survive

Boxed In currently has two modes, a ‘Survival’ mode where the cubes just keep coming, faster and faster, and a ‘Solitaire’ mode where the room is filled with cubes and I could take my time to clear them. I tried the solitaire mode first and it started off casual enough. Soon though, things started getting hectic as the blocks kept coming faster and faster. So much so that in the end I felt quite overwhelmed and promptly got myself ‘squished’ against the opposite wall. The game allowed me to change the color of the cubes, move them around a bit (if I was close to them) as well as create new cubes.

The gameplay in Boxed In was a quite a bit harder than I had expected it to be. This is because, due to either my poor planning or just the nature of the game, some cubes would get separated from the main group. Which meant that depending on the options I chose, I would have to add more cubes to them until I either formed a line or a block of the same colored cubes. However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed keeping up with those stragglers so I usually tried to ‘create’ as few of them as possible. Though the game does have quite a few options to make the gameplay easier or harder, for instance I could choose which direction the blocks come from (the wall, floor, or ceiling), and I could choose how many colors I wanted to work with, three, four, or five.

Still, there were some irksome features too – when it comes to changing the color of the cubes at least. I couldn’t quite figure out the pattern here, which meant that sometimes a cube would change between all the available different colors, while other times a cube would refuse to change color at all. I’m not sure if this is planned or a bug, but it certainly added a layer of difficulty to the game. Though I didn’t experience any discernable bugs or glitches the whole game through.

Overall, I felt that for what it is, Boxed In is a fun, polished game that can kill a few hours as you try for the highest score in both modes with all the different difficulty options.

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