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Velocibox (PC) artwork

Velocibox (PC) review

"What Temple Runner might have been had it hated you more."

Genuinely, my favourite thing in the world right now is sitting an unsuspecting victim in front of Velocibox, then watching them crash and burn before they even realise whatís just happened. As such, I write this review begrudgingly because it supplies anyone who reads it with enough aggravating knowledge to avoid such a trap. Ideally, I donít want you to know that Velocibox does not exist to spin a narrative, to make you feel better about the world or to hold your hand; it exists for no other reason than to make you feel like a clumsy, lumbering lummox lacking in both talent and dexterity.

I have to take this video at its word that the game extends out to as many as six (spoilers Ė thereís nine!) levels. I once made it halfway through level four, and have got nowhere near it since. On the face of things, Velocibox revels in its simplicity: your modest cube rockets through a corridor and youíre tasked with not stacking it into any of the obstacles thrown in its path. With just the arrow keys as prompts, you can flip your perspective at will; ride up the walls or transfer yourself to the celling. The first stage throws out a few columns stretching across the verticals and horizontals, but itís nothing overly complex. According to my stats page, it only takes an average of ten seconds of this to kill me off.

Velocibox is pure, undiluted twitch gameplay released in an era as to remind newer gamers how easy they have it nowadays, and to remind older ones that, if they ever possessed worthwhile gaming reflexes, theyíve long since eroded. You need to plot paths through the spokes of obstacles, rolling up walls and back again; flipping from floor to ceiling and trying to factor in that those blocks on the left are now on the right in the space of half a second. Itís wonderfully frustrating to realise that safety lay in rolling the screen right, but you decided to switch up for down and ate a facefull of blue for your error. Because thereís a way through Ė because you can always see thereís a way through Ė youíll try again. Ten seconds later, youíll die, but thatís cool, youíll try again anyway. Then you realise that staying alive is all well and good, but to advance to further stages, you need to gobble up smaller boxes plotted along the way.

There was a time when I knew with sinking certainty that Iíd never pass the first stage, back when staying alive for ten seconds felt like a massive achievement. Velocibox laughed at my poor efforts with plentiful ĎRetry?í screens displaying a weak high score to try and better. Racking up big points is more than just picking up boxes; itís about picking them up in rapid procession. Playing it safe and just picking away at the boxes that more or less land at your feet means sacrificing the big points dialling up combos grant you. But grabbing boxes in succession often means darting through dangers that could be easily avoided by cautious players. Like a coward, I limped into my first few forays in Stage 2, simply happy to get there. I died seconds later. But I was making progress.

Thereís no happy ending to be had here; Iíve yet to witness even a hint of Velociboxís supposed finishing line, but I can feel myself creeping closer. If I die at the first stage, Iím disappointed in myself, or I was too greedy in my box gobbling. Iím slowly learning Stage 2ís little quirks; how it does away with things as pedestrian as columns, and instead colours huge stretches of space into dead zones with tiny patches of safety hidden between. Iíve only beaten 3 once; Iím usually quickly dispatched by yellow retracting walls that mercilessly smash me back to the start. I donít recall much of my single foray into 4 Ė I played that in unblinking terror.

And then I died. And then I jumped straight back in. Itís an addictive minimalism coupled with the fact that, with every death, I know I could have done better, and am driven back to the start to prove that point. Hundreds of Game Over screens later and Iím only making creeping progress. But thatís still progress, right?


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (September 09, 2014)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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EmP posted September 14, 2014:

In answer to this, I just considerably raised my high score. But, seriously, the hell with level three.

I have Super Hexagon on my Steam library, but have yet to play it.
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EmP posted September 16, 2014:

You know this can only end in a review.
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EmP posted September 18, 2014:

And if I ever sprout wings, I shall fly.

I've dropped right off the pace. I'm disappointed when I don't get to at least stage 3 (which was almost unthinkable as a constant at time of writing this review) but I can't control my greed. 3 still remains my most despised stage despite progressing past it a few times. Because go to hell, scrolling column walls.
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EmP posted October 15, 2014:

Having to stop and play other games to keep this site afloat sucks, and means I'm now so far behind you on Velocibox that I feel a little annoyed.

I shall bottle this rage and use it to fuel a comeback. No stealing my assets for your review!

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