Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review: Velocibox

Its a shame there's already a title out there called The Impossible Game, because Velocibox could easily have taken over that mantle. Beyond the tutorial level, games can last literally seconds as you try and jump or rotate around these frenzied tunnels - its a bit like the hectic end-of-later-level parts of a TxK run, just without the shooting.

Instead, all you (a square box, but hey that never hurt Thomas Was Alone) need to do is survive and collect orbs to advance to the next level. But that's easier said than done. The pace is frenetic, the reactions required are those of an Apache pilot as you try and plot a route through the blitzkrieg of a level, with barriers every fraction of a second - do you jump or rotate, or both, or panic?

What makes things worse, or more challenging, depending on your reactions, are moving platforms and fixed paths, in the further levels. Surviving isn't good enough, you have to collect those orbs, but there's a bit of salvation as you can learn patterns among the levels and if you get a few familiar segments in a row, you can just about make it, with repetition a common feature of Velocibox.

But, every wrong move sends you back to the start of that level. At least restarting is just as fast as your many deaths. Shawn Beck's game is a thrilling short burst challenge, but it doesn't feel like a great game.

Players should be rewarded for staying alive, with points for distance traveled, or for successful jumps, and twists and turns. That would add to the challenge - perhaps those features are in there somewhere, but my reactions are two dulled to get all the way through.

Also, about 200 games in I realised you can squeeze through narrow gaps between obstacles, but the game's fluid movement means one tiny misalignment and its game over, again! Perhaps a Klax or Tetris style grid movement, or a mode using that, would be better.

To give it a little more legs, there's a ranked mode, with an online leaderboard, but with such a simple engine, there's plenty more scope to add new ideas to make this more than just a minute-a-day title. And at £9, that's pretty steep for all Velocibox has to offer, especially as its £5 on Steam.

Bundled with the PS4 version on PSN, I do wonder if that's a little smoother then Vita edition, but either way, this is a serious challenge for the arcade purists out there.

Score 6/10
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Price: £8.99 on PSN
Dev: Shawn Beck/Loot
Progress: 500 deaths

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