BOXBOXBOY!

BOXBOY! is Multiplicity if, instead of making actual living clones of himself, Michael Keaton created lifeless mannequins of himself out of his own body. And then stacked them up and climbed on them to get places. As the title suggests, BOXBOXBOY!, the recently released sequel, doubles the boxes, the amount of weird, lifeless traversal-based clones of yourself that spring directly from your body to allow you an easier path from A to B.

In comparison to BOXBOY!, the changes made to BOXBOXBOY! are apparent from the title itself. It's the same for the most part, but one important addition: twice as many boxes! Where in the first game you were able to create a single set of boxes (the amount of boxes in each chain limited by whatever level you happened to be in at the time), this gives you two full sets that you can place instead. Where the boxes would disappear in the first game as soon as you started to place a second set, in this one that second set just pops right out like it's no problem.

Why can Qbby suddenly do that? Because it's the second game, basically. There are small, bizarre hints at a story in this universe, little things barely more than 30 seconds long that feel much larger than just the box puzzles you're solving. This weird feeling of worlds being uncovered and other characters being woken from the bizarre slumbers they're in. Who are these quadrilateral heroes that have followed us from game to game? What drives them, besides the desire to make boxes and use them to get further?

It's not to the game's detriment that it never answers, by any means. BOXBOXBOY! is all about its puzzle platforming levels, which are incredibly fun and well put together. It's something that developers HAL Labs showed off in the original entry, and they've really just improved on it. The second set of boxes adds more depth and far more possibilities. Things that wouldn't have been possible in the first game become second nature, expanding the basic traversal techniques you use to get from one point to the other.

It's both a problem and a smart idea that the progression of BOXBOXBOY! is essentially the same as in the first game. Each new world tries to introduce a new mechanic, and as it goes along it tries to slowly build on top of it until you're slowly combining all kinds of things to get yourself through levels. At the beginning you're just hopping over tall things. Towards the end, you're tossing boxes in specific formations to block lasers, keep you from dying on spikes, even open combination locks of a sort. It builds very well, and at the end of the game after the credits roll, it unlocks even more levels that work in some of the most difficult to solve puzzles I've played.

Back from the first game is a hint system that uses play coins (the ones you get from walking – yeah, remember those? They're back!) and an outfit system that lets you give yourself small boosts like better speed... or you could just dress like a schoolboy. In fact, if you have save data from the first game on your system, you just automatically unlock a bunch of the outfits. Which was handy for me, because I really like the extra bit of speed that it gives. And the uniform.

The problem with BOXBOXBOY!, though, is the sense of familiarity – some of the unlockables are the same, the level progression is the same, it even does the same "roll credits, whoops now it turns out there's more levels!" like the original did. And at some point, it is a puzzle game – how much can really change from game to game when the most important part is that there are new levels more than anything? Maybe it's just the barebones monochromatic presentation that's actually bothering me here more than anything – as well as Qbby and co animations. They're a little dull to carry over between games without really changing in any way.

BOXBOXBOY! is an excellent puzzle game that adds to the concept of the original in a simple way that smartly changes how levels play out. It still feels good, and some of the puzzles are real mindbenders, and even though there's a bit too much similarity between it and the first game, it's impossible to go wrong with a $5 asking price for something so fun.