IndieBox Review: Better Loot Than AAA Chests
I’m an avid player of indie games. Some of my favorite titles come from independent developers. (I’m looking at you, Stanley Parable.) I’m also primarily a PC gamer, which means a lot of my games, especially my indie games, are digital copies. While it’s nice to open my Steam library and scroll through all those game names, I often find myself wishing for physical copies. Because an expansive Steam library is a lot like an expansive shelf of torrented movies: it’s super convenient, but it doesn’t have the same “presence” that a shelf full of cases does. Aside from looking really impressive, a collection of physical copies is also a great conversation starter. I’ve made more than a few friends by noticing games on their shelves.
Enter the IndieBox.
It’s a new service that’s a little like LootCrate for indie games. Starting at $19.99 (plus S&H) a month, you get a boxed version of highly-rated indie games with a few extra goodies inside. I got to peek at two of these boxes: one for Brütal Legends by Double Fine, the other for SteamWorld Dig by Image & Form. And neither box disappointed.
The outside of one box had been signed by the IndieBox team, and the other had a big, silver-sharpie heart drawn on the underside of the top flap. Inside both boxes were smaller, limited-edition boxes for each game – which I learned later were hand-designed by the IndieBox team. The artistic choices for these boxes were very different from each other, and both fit the overall aesthetic of the game remarkably well. The boxes looked like they should have held a series of installation disks, but instead they were packed with all sorts of collectibles and an IndieBox newsletter. Here are the other goodies that came in each box:
- Soundtrack and installation CDs
- Instruction manual
- “Exclusive Backstage Pass” (a lanyard with a “Crew” badge)
- Specially-designed guitar pick
- IndieBox newsletter #2
- Leather-scented “Deuce” air freshener
- BL-inspired IndieBox sticker
- USB Drive with DRM-free installation files
- Original soundtrack CD
- Instruction manual
- SteamWorld playing cards
- Tumbleton welcome sign
- Indiebox newsletter #3
- SteamWorld-inspired IndieBox sticker
The SteamWorld Dig box was also supposed to come with a heavy-duty Gargantuan Pouch, but a delay in shipping forced the IndieBox team to choose between shipping the whole box late and shipping it without the pouch. IndieBox chose the latter, so the pouches were shipped separately.
The Revival of the Instruction Manual
Perhaps my favorite inclusion in each box was the instruction manual. Some of you may be too young to know this, but all games used to come with instruction manuals. These manuals often had maps, art, and other neat stuff inside of them. Instruction manuals are another thing that I really miss about physical game copies.
The manuals inside each box felt just like the ones from games I’d play when I was younger. They each had cool artwork, neat fonts, character photos, and helpful diagrams and tips. (They even had a few extra pages for notes – remember those?) The manuals added just a hint of nostalgia to each box. They didn't just feel like physical copies, they felt like the kinds of physical copies that abounded when physical was the only option.
During my unboxing, the first thing I was struck by was the quality of the items. Each one felt sturdy and well-made – easily the same quality you’d expect from AAA merchandise or a service like LootCrate. The SteamWorld Dig playing cards felt just as good as the decks I’d buy in a store. And the Brütal Legends lanyard is the same quality as one I got for ten bucks in a university bookshop
Each item also had a custom design, so no two things in the box had the same artwork. These pieces of art adhered to a well-structured visual theme for its respective game. The SteamWorld Dig box had a Western theme, so there were a lot of warm, sandy colors. The aesthetic was a clever mix of cogs and mechanical details with fonts that would be well-suited to a saloon’s “Wanted” poster. The Brütal Legends box was much darker, featuring lots of black/white contrasts, stained with hints of red. Hellish creatures and blazing fires abounded. The IndieBox team even revived an original piece of art from the five-year-old game to use on the Crew badge. Both boxes reflected an incredible amount of effort and attention to detail.
Overall, I’m really impressed with both these boxes. In the realm of quality and design, IndieBox is right on par with the merchandise from AAA stores and similar goodie-bag services. In fact, I’d be willing to argue that IndieBox surpasses those distributors in some regards, because they spend so much time choosing the items and creating brand-new artwork for the games. The IndieBox team is clearly trying to honor these games with their designs, and their efforts are paying off. Each item felt like it could have been part of an original collector’s edition.
Is IndieBox worth the monthly cost? Absolutely. These boxes are well-thought-out and beautifully executed. Not only do they contain great indie games, they also have soundtracks, high-quality collectibles, and limited-edition art. That’s a ton of stuff for around $20 – a lot more than I expected to get, honestly. I would definitely recommend giving IndieBox a try. It would also make a great gift for beloved gamers this holiday season.
Subscriptions come in sets of 1, 3, or 6 months. You can also buy past boxes from the IndieBox Store. Check out their website for more information on previous and upcoming boxes, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates and photos from the IndieBox team.