The Box

by Paul Michael Winters profile

Escape Room

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Number of Reviews: 5
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short puzzlebox-escape-the-room type adventure, April 22, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

The Box is a thin setup for a short puzzlebox-escape-the-room type adventure. Nothing necessarily against a thin setup, just go into this knowing that it's a puzzle-forward experience. The puzzles such as they are are none too difficult and can all be solved by prodding enough of the environment to find the next clue when stuck. They're largely not of a sort of puzzles to need several clues. At least a few are pretty much spoiled on finding a single clue. At least one of them was sort of artificially gated in a way that I felt resisted a logical secondary solution ((Spoiler - click to show)burning the ropes on the drawbridge), but I think I get it. (Spoiler - click to show)Highlighting the one solution is meant to reinforce in its own way that in Kreate the mouse is important (the bit of hardware symbolized by the creature implemented in the game... personally I found the mouse implemented in-game a bit too "talkative" for my tastes; especially considering how little it really contributed to puzzle solutions, it seemed a bit misleading and distracting for me to be hearing from it every couple turns). Only the mouse (the in-game creature yes, but also the bit of hardware) actually didn't turn out in my playthrough to be super important so much as it was handy in a couple given scenarios. Though Kreate has the advantage of featuring a hybrid input parser, mouse input salience was still overall pretty low for me as a player in this game. But then I'm also a practiced typist and not everybody will have the same automaticity in typing IF commands, nor will every game have the same level of keyboard-vs-mouse use. Its inclusion is welcome and I can see future games on the platform making even broader use of it.

The big advantage of Kreate's hybrid setup from the perspective of a player is in being able to use the mouse to interact more thoroughly with the story rather than typing commands into a parser. Maybe I'm being too repetitive here, but it seems a major point of both the game and platform. More specifically, in The Box the mouse (the computer hardware, not the animal implemented in the game) can be used to click links to perform commands (though the links automatically generated are not always immediately helpful, sometimes a distraction) or to operate some of the glyphs and dials on the titular box which might be more tedious if done entirely through parser commands. The drop-down menus for operating letter dials were a particularly welcome change of pace from what would have been a tedious exercise if typed into a parser. Inform has extensions for creating hyperlinks and buttons, but I've yet to see a drop-down menu implemented in Inform as far as I can remember (it probably has) although I don't see why that wouldn't be completely possible too.

I have to admit though that from playing this game alone, although I wouldn't say I disliked it, I'm just not totally clear on what Kreate's advantages as a development system are over its contemporaries. I suppose the success of the platform will come down to more people trying it out and The Box is at least an advertisement that it works. As a work of IF, The Box is a rewarding enough puzzler to spend your time on. If you're experienced, it won't take a lot of time anyway, and if you're new seems like it should be accessible enough to guide you through without too much head scratching.

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