Velocibox PC Developed by Shawn Beck Released in 2014
I keep a separate category on my Steam library for games that I just found uninteresting. Many of these titles I acquired through Humble Bundles and the like, tried out for a little bit, only to discard them after a few minutes as “not my jam”. I won’t deny that, in trying to fill out a list of 31 games for this month, I had to take dive into this list of unwanted games. Of course I didn’t want to review any ol’ trash, this was an excavation meant to unearth games that were wrongly banished. This effort led me to rediscover Velocibox.
Too much sugar
I certainly raised an eyebrow whilst reading through the store page description, as Velocibox announces itself as a twitch-heavy game for the hardcore audience. I am always wary when developers themselves begin to direct their charms towards the “hardcore” gamers, but on top of that Velocibox certainly didn’t look the part either, with its colorful, block-rolling gameplay. My doubt towards the game’s sincerity were shattered moments later, after my first few attempts at it lasted mere seconds.
In Velocibox you play as a box floating through an endless tunnel that stretches out before you. With the left & right arrow keys you move to the sides and when you press up it will flip you towards the ceiling. If you can imagine a mix of Tempest and Skyroads you won’t be far off, except in the latter you could at least manage your speed. In Velocibox there is only one speed that can only be described as “way too darn fast”. As you race through the tunnel you’ll have to dodge around obstacles by moving around, flipping between walls, all while trying to keep your eyes on the road to see what comes next. You have no health, no second chances, touching anything that isn’t a floor will kill you instantly.
While you do this you’ll have to pick up little, colorful boxes, which tend to lure you into routes that are less safe to take. When you have picked up enough the game gives you a bit of break before loading in a new tunnel that has new obstacles to dodge that require more refined mastery of the mechanics. You see, the game isn’t so much randomly generated as it has a few, preset segments it stitches together, so after a while you get used to the tricks of level 1, you’ll find yourself actually picking up the boxes, only for it to advance you to level 2 and suddenly there is a whole new library of stuff it throws at you. That really keeps you on your toes and I actually had a little panic attack when I finally got to level 3 and suddenly obstacles moved around as I approached.
It’s certainly a game that demands you master it. There is no option to start from a level you have already reached before, you always have to get back to level 1 and prove yourself all over again. I didn’t even get the achievement for reaching a new level until I managed that same feat a few more times, which is completely intentional. With its high speed and instant death this certainly isn’t a game for those that like slower, easier games, but it makes up for the rapid deaths by making it quick & easy to get back into the action. It pops up a menu showing your score and the second you hammer the button to retry it puts you right back into the game. And hammer that button I did; the admittedly simple gameplay is actually really addicting and it was exciting anytime it felt like a run was going well or when I broke a previous high score.
Gameplay score: 9/10
Turn up the lights
Initially the game wasn’t that interesting to look at. Level 1 is a rather sterile stage with the orange boxes being the only visually exciting elements, but once you start advancing to later stages the party gets started for real. From level 2 onward the visuals are a lot more active and exciting. Seeing what kind of style you’ll get next is a great drive to get better at the game and reach new stages. The NES version of Tetris has a similar appeal for me, except Velocibox has the added benefit of throwing new obstacles at you with each new level as well.
In terms of music I was a little disappointed. It has a few techno tunes that are suitable for the gameplay and style, but I got tired of them after a while and started playing the game to the soundtrack of Redline instead. It was also just kind of frustrating to have the song mute for a while each time you lose.
Presentation score: 7.5/10
Like an arcade cabinet
Velocibox doesn’t delve into extras much, providing a game that is focused on its core concept and difficulty alone. You’ll be able to compare your score to that of other users via the leaderboard. You are also able to get (Steam) achievements for reaching each of the game’s levels 10 times and, as I mentioned earlier, it’s an addicting game to play thanks to its fast pace and the joy of seeing your skills improve. 8 euros may seem steep for a simplistic-looking indie game, but if you let yourself get absorbed by its challenge than it will be worth every cent.
Extras score: 8.5/10
I tend to take a liking to games that offer arcade gameplay demanding twitch reaction, though usually I combine that with my love for rhythm games. Melody’s Escape and Audiosurf are both titles very dear to me about avoiding obstacles at high speed, and now Velocibox takes place besides them. I don’t think the game would have been better if it also worked with player’s music, but I do feel its soundtrack is a weakness when compared to the quality gameplay and surprising art-direction. If you are into high speed twitch-reaction games, then Velocibox should not be skipped.