Unbox – Newbie’s Adventure by indie developer Prospect Games is a 3D platformer set in a colourful large world. Taking control of a cardboard box, yes you heard me right, it is down to you to single handedly raise the reputation of the Global Postal Service (GPS) that is currently in a down hill spiral thanks to parcels going missing and failed delivery times. Proving yourself “as a sentient, self delivering package”, this game sounds so riveting, the enemy is introduced as someone called “Boss Wild” and the little evil minions, “Wild Cards”.
Having sat through the intro that builds up to your dramatic arrival into the GPS I was under the impression that I was about to be unleashed into a fun, action packed world and couldn’t wait to begin. Through the tutorial it is explained to you how to roll, jump and unbox. The latter of the movements allows you to jump higher and further in order to get to out of reach platforms within the world. Each time you “unbox” you become smaller in size and you have a maximum of 6 unboxes before requiring a checkpoint to reinstate the function.
Having entered Paradise Isles I was excited by the steel drum soundtrack and tropical landscape that lay before me. As I progressed into the final part of the tutorial whereby I had to roll and jump between platforms within the sea in order to collect 20 “golden tapes”, I began to feel a rage that I have never really felt before. Now through my career at Thumb Culture I am lucky to play many games in my spare time however to be stuck at a tutorial stage I actually began to start feeling pretty pissed off. I could not for the life of me get used to the movement mechanics of the cardboard box. If Crash Bandicoot has people up in arms about how difficult it can be to time/calculate jumps, then just wait until you try and land a cardboard box onto a platform accurately. Seriously, I ended up in the sea so many times I was contemplating giving up completely. When I finally did collect the 20th golden tape I was congratulated on how quick I was at completing the task. Really!?
When the story did finally begin I was left to my own devices on Paradise Isle. You can toggle between various challenges and a marker appears on the screen to direct you in the correct direction, that is so long as you can figure out how to land the jumps as most of the area is surrounded by water. You are encouraged to pickup all of the golden tapes, complete challenges for stamps and release the trapped “zippies” within each world. Zippies are small cardboard boxes that are being held within a cage. Does anyone else think this is beginning to sound a little like the gameplay for Spyro the Dragon or is it just me? I know it is mentioned that it is a “90s style platformer” but it seems to be a little similar in places.
As you meet more and more characters, further gaming hints, story and new missions are revealed. The dialogue from the characters does get slightly annoying after a while as they speak in an inaudible manner which gets pretty repetitive and boring while you read the subtitles on the screen.
But wait if you are tired of jumping and rolling off the land you can find vehicles that you can drive! No wait, the controls are so sensitive you end up backing the forklift off the dock and wedging the red jeep into a crevice. Seriously, is it really this hard or am I having a bad day?
Unbox – Newbie’s adventure does allow you to customise your bland looking amazon package via the “Boxomatic” with a number of costume accessories that you can collect along your adventure. Changing the box skin to a vampire wearing a Christmas hat with a moustache you would have thought that I had pretty much lost the plot however I was just getting ready for the multiplayer side of the game.
Multiplayer allows splitscreen play with upto 4 players locally with a choice of either free play or tournament mode. Freeplay allows you to travel to a world and compete in competitions such as who can collect the most gold tape; who can shoot the most other players with fireworks; who can collect the most coins from players that have been shot by fireworks (pretty much kill confirm for all you call of duty players); a delivery race and finally a challenge called “oddbox” whereby you earn points for every second that you can keep your glow for. Tournament mode allows selection between either Delivery (race) or Arena (battle) and features a customisable number or rounds and game duration.
I found the delivery race good fun to play with friends as the mechanics of the “unbox” jump along with the collectable powerups made for some fun times. The constant bounding around detracts from the clunky movement of the cardboard box that you experience when merely rolling around the map.
The worlds are huge, featuring vibrant beaches, shanty towns, icy villages and mountains. The many environments are certainly an attraction to the littluns as they laughed at me constantly being respawned. A lot of exploring is required to fully take in all the sights however getting to those locations requires skill and a truck load of patience for sure. When racing, the action is smooth and crisp, it is just unfortunate that it is all let down by the horrendous controls.
The theme tunes to each of the worlds are honed to the landscapes that they are to depict, for example steel drums for a tropical isle give a lovely summery feeling whereby you cant wait to chill out and respawn over and over again. I found the constant dialogue of the characters to be irritating, however maybe these are just memories that I can’t remember when I used to play games like Spyro and Croc in the 90s.
No doubt with a lot more perseverance, Unbox – Newbie’s Adventure will be a game that takes up many a player’s time in order to hunt out all of the collectables and challenges that are dotted around the worlds. The multiplayer aspect is certainly fun but i’m unsure whether it is just fun because you get to see others struggling with the movement of the cardboard box making them an equally easy target as yourself to either shoot or race past.
In my opinion, Unbox – Newbie’s Adventure would be a fantastic and fun platform game to play if it wasn’t for the fact that you are a cardboard box and that the controls take a lot of getting used to. It is unique to see a cardboard box feature as a central character however I cannot help but think that someone was having a really bad day having lost some mail and then centred the entire story around it. The 90s saw little cute dragons, crocodiles even a gecko but never a cardboard box!
I award Unbox – Newbie’s Adventure a bronze thumbs up with 5/10.
Unbox is out now on PC via Steam and comes to the PS4 and Xbox One on 26th July with Nintendo Switch to be confirmed.