App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Adventure games that adhere very closely to genre convention can be difficult to feel a lot of love for. Unless they do something particularly inventive to tell their story, they run a real risk of simply feeling derivative. Boxvilletoes this line very closely, but it makes up for some of its mechanical familiarity by moving at a swift pace through a charming world.
Adventure in a can
Boxville takes place in a world made of recyclables. People are made of various cans and other cylindrical, metal containers and the buildings are made of--you guessed it--boxes. You play as a blue soda can who has lost their dog (made of a tuna can), which takes you on a winding path through this city of cardboard where you often need to solve other can's problems to find a way forward.
This entire adventure is a wordless affair, though bits of backstory or explanations are provided through comic panels scrawled on pieces of cardboard. Most of these explanations function to give you some direction when it comes to poking around these recyclable environments, collecting items, and using them to solve age-old adventure game problems like how to get a MacGuffin for an NPC or reach a place you can't simply walk to directly.
No hints needed
As adventure games go, Boxville is thankfully pretty straightforward. That is to say, there are no moments I had when playing where the next step I needed to take was particularly unclear. Each part of the game is divided up into a specific part of the city, and all of the puzzles in each area only revolve around a handful of items. This makes it so that even if you find yourself having to resort to trial-and-error, you aren't juggling a large number of solutions to plug and chug through.
There are also virtually no puzzle archetypes that repeat in Boxville, so the challenges you enjoy stay fresh and enjoyable while the ones you don't just fade in the rear view as you continue moving forward. Something I found somewhat remarkable about Boxville's puzzle design is just how intuitive it all is. I never felt myself wondering why a solution was the way it was or how I was supposed to figure something out.
Short, simple, cute
As a result of having intuitive, non-repeating puzzles, Boxville doesn't take a ton of time to get through. The quest to find your dog is similarly straightforward and doesn't really give way to some larger or more intriguing plot.
This might result in some players hoping for a bit more by the time they reached the end, but I was honestly relieved that Boxville ended when it did. The scope of the game is small and to see it just focus on designing bespoke challenges in its unique world for as long as that seemed fun is more satisfying to me than padding the thing out or trying to shoehorn in other things into the game to create some artificial sense of additional value.
The bottom line
Sometimes the thing that makes a game enjoyable is how it gives you everything you expect while making it look easy. Boxville doesn't feel super ambitious and it isn't all that surprising, but it is a good point-and-click adventure that ensures you'll basically never get stuck or sick of it for as long as it lasts.