Unbox: Newbie's Adventure Review -- Fun With Boxes
Picture this, a new 3D collectathon platformer which isn't a spiritual successor to or a remake of the nostalgic games of the past. This particular game also features no cartoonish humans, anthropomorphic reptiles, marsupials, or sentient magical gloves. You might be asking how that's even possible. Well, Unbox: Newbie's Adventure has the answer you're looking for.
Unbox: Newbie's Adventure is a 3D platformer by Prospect Games which stars Newbie, "the world's first self-delivering box," in a world inhabited by sentient boxes. It's up to Newbie to rescue the Zippies--generic white, always smiling delivery boxes--from the devious Wildcard gang and their leader, Boss Wild, and ultimately to save the entire world for all of box kind.
Unbox is perhaps one of the most open 3D platformers in recent memory. Its nonlinear structure encourages exploration of each of the three levels to find secrets and various collectibles. In every level--besides the hub world--the main goal is to collect 10 out of 18 stamps by completing missions or finding them hidden throughout the level. 10 stamps can usually be obtained by completing all of the missions in a level, while the other eight are hidden in the nooks and crannies or behind platforming puzzles of said levels.
After collecting 10 stamps, the boss of the level will be unlocked. The missions which need to be completed in order to obtain stamps may consist of racing, platforming, collecting items, or destroying objects and defeating enemies. Missions can also be repeated as many times as the player desires, which yields no extra stamps, but is beneficial if players want more practice to help improve their skills.
Other than the normal running (or rolling, in this case) and jumping typically expected of a game in this genre, Unbox features a unique mechanic called "Unboxing," which allows the player to not only double jump, but also use five more extra jumps all at the cost of "health."
Contrary to what one might think, "health" does not lead the player to lose a life once they're at zero, but the player will not be able to unbox until their health is regained by either collecting the "health" boxes spread throughout the level. The player can also recover "health" by dying or completing a mission to reset the unbox amount.
Certain obstacles, such as fire vents, can also cause Newbie to lose its "health," causing players to think more carefully when platforming through certain missions. Interestingly enough, Unbox also features no true health or life system, and if Newbie dies by falling or getting crushed, it just respawns at the previous checkpoint.
It's easy to assume that unboxing would make the game too easy, but depending on the mission, it can create more difficulty. Also, plenty missions don't allow the use of unboxing, which then requires more careful thought when gaining momentum and jumping between platforms.
In some missions, different types of fireworks can be used as weapons to destroy targets or hit enemies. The type of firework the player receives is determined by a shuffle after they pick up a blue fireworks box, which is similar to an item box in Mario Kart. These particular missions can be somewhat chaotic due to enemies also having weapons, forcing the player to be careful not to get hit.
This becomes even more apparent in missions where the player has no weapons, but still has to face enemies. The player can still defeat these enemies with a basic slam attack, but hitting them isn't always easy and takes a bit of practice. In these missions, it's usually better to avoid these enemies when possible, especially while jumping your way through an already harrowing platforming section.
As previously mentioned, the levels in Unbox are expansive and players may find themselves distracted by exploration between missions. Each area is enjoyable to explore, and with vehicles and plenty of other secrets spread throughout, exploration is definitely encouraged.
Unlike other games in the genre, Newbie's appearance is completely customizable and new accessories are unlocked after completing certain missions and challenges. Newbie's appearance can either be changed on the title screen through the Box-O-Matic feature, or at the Swift Tailoring shop which is in each level.
Unbox also features competitive splitscreen multiplayer. Up to four players can race and battle against each other across 11 different multiplayer maps. Players are also able to customize their own tournaments.
Unbox is a delightful game, but has a couple of flaws keeping it from being as amazing as it could be. The two biggest flaws of Unbox are its music and its unwillingness to go further with unique mechanics. When in a level, only one music track plays during exploration and missions until the boss fight. The music itself isn't terrible, the soundtrack just needs more variety, since hearing the same track on repeat can easily become irritating when exploring levels or completing missions. As creative as the unboxing feature is, they could have experimented with it more with it to create more unique and diverse missions. This game could also benefit from a co-op mode, due to how fun exploration of each level is.
The Final Verdict--Boxes Are Great Fun, But Delivery Could Be Better
For the most part, Unbox is a normal 3D platformer. Its unique concept, singular new mechanic, and multiplayer features help make it more enjoyable than just a rehash or remake of older games. If Prospect Games adds more content in the future, then Unbox could mark the return of new, original 3D platforming games. It should be tremendous fun for any fan of the genre, and is generally recommended to any other interested players.
Unbox: Newbie's Adventure is currently available on Steam, and will release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 26. The game will also release on Nintendo Switch at an unspecified date later this year.
A review copy was provided by Prospect Games.