Developed by Shawn Beck & LOOT Interactive
Published by Shawn Beck & LOOT Interactive
Available on PC, PS4 & Vita
Let’s get one thing straight right out of the gate. I didn’t finish this game.
Now, I like to think of myself as a pretty decent gamer. I’ve finished a whole load of titles that are often considered to be challenging – Ninja Gaiden, Dark Souls, Donkey Kong Country Returns. But with Velocibox I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t able to beat level three. Level three beat me.
Whilst I re-evaluate my failures in life, let’s take a look at what Velocibox actually is. Putting players in the role of a cube, the game sends you zooming forward down an unending corridor. You’re able to slide left and right with the analog stick (or the D-pad if you’re some kind of mentalist), and can stick to the sides and ceiling of the corridor. Alternatively, hitting the X button sends your cube leaping skywards to land on whatever wall it’s currently opposite.
And that’s pretty much it. There’s no fancy control scheme, no multitude of inputs to learn. Just one stick and one button. Oh, and death. Lots and lots of death. You see, as your cube travels down the corridor (at breakneck pace) there are obstacles to avoid. These take the form of pillars or walls, sometimes wrapping around three sides of the corridor and sometimes moving around or changing in size. In order to progress you must dodge these aberrations whilst trying to collect little mini-cubes. Nab six of these mini-cubes and you progress to the next level.
It’s arcade gaming distilled into its purest form. Upon death (of which there will be so, so many) restarts happen instantly, and in less than a second you’re back screaming down the corridor of death. Layouts are almost predictable, by which I mean each level seems to have a set number of patterns, and it rotates through them with each death. This means you’re never able to quite memorize them properly and brings a degree of challenge/masochism depending on your viewpoint. It doesn’t help that it’s nearly impossible to remember the position of the obstacles when you’ve only lasted about 1.35 seconds before dying.
And really, that’s my prime issue with Velocibox. I’m all for a good challenge – I stuck with Assassin’s Creed Unity to the end, after all – but this is just so difficult it actually becomes almost funny. I’ll have ‘Level Three Begin!’ chanting in my head for all eternity. Each death is never unfair, it’s all down to your memory and reaction times rather than something the game is doing to trip you up. But the big reason difficult games like Dark Souls work is that despite their often punishing difficulty, there’s an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when you’re finally able to defeat that bloody Capra Demon once and for all. There’s a feeling that you’ve mastered that section of the game just enough to topple him, and your character is growing and becoming stronger because of it.
Velocibox doesn’t have that. What Velocibox has is fifty attempts at level one, followed by an incredibly fortunate run where you are able to get six mini-cubes before dying and are flung into level two where almost immediately you die (luckily you get to restart from level two). Both times I advanced a level, it never felt like it was earned. I got lucky, plain and simple.
So it’s tough to recommend this. Did I enjoy my time with Velocibox? Honestly, probably not. If you’re the type of person who loves mastering insanely fast and repeatable courses (think F-Zero GX on Gamecube, perhaps) or if you’re just really into your self-flagellation, you’ll probably get something from it. For me, however, it’s more frustration than fun.