Hoard! Box by box Independent extract
Of all the new puzzle games 2021 has to offer so far, Hoard! Box by box from developer Seed by Seed is both a solo and co-op delight worth seeking out. While it can draw on a casual audience as it offers an adaptable challenge for all ages, the latest platform game released by HandyGames is by no means a simple puzzle to solve. Hoard! unloads a short but enticing package that will play differently depending on whether the player chooses to ride alone or with friends. It’s a partial collectathon that keeps most of its promises.
In the same way as other stylized paper games such as Yoshi’s craft world, Hoard! Box by box focuses lightly on the story as it remains geared towards providing charming visuals and meticulous gameplay. The game opens with a cutscene where the world of Boxlings is engulfed by a mysterious gray energy that transforms the central world into an empty, colorless mold of itself. After that, the story is never touched on again as the players are immersed in the action. Like the Boxlings, your job is to solve the problems of the local inhabitants so that your home spontaneously regains its lost charm and comes back to life.
Boxlings are able to perform four different actions: jump, dash, carry and unload. As the player learns the technical details behind moving boxes in the tutorial, they will understand almost everything they need to complete the game. To keep the puzzle solving and standard mechanics up to date, each world introduces a new type of box capable of a special ability. Basically, although there are quite a few platforms out there, puzzle solving is at the center of our concerns. There are 400 yellow cubes to collect as well as secret circles that unlock hidden roads in each world, but solving all cases on the player’s path is always in the foreground as it is the only need for progression.
Hoard! was designed to present a piece-to-piece format that relies on experimentation. If the player happens to mess up a puzzle, they can reset the current “piece” by simply holding down the left and right triggers simultaneously. The majority of the puzzles in the game can be completed in several ways. Although it was designed to be a single player, using a cooperative mode allows users to overcome normal obstacles if they work together effectively. The single and multiplayer experiences of Hoard! are completely different areas. While the former asks individual players to think carefully about what is available, the latter lets a game go wild using each other.
While the movement and precipitation is nice, the positioning and hopping of the camera can often interfere with the player. Depth perception will usually be an issue with a locked camera in a platformer, but the jump mechanic can seem completely unreliable. Jumping can be quite frustrating at times as players can lack precision. Hoard! has quite a few secret tricks up his sleeve in terms of control, but the jump mechanic undoubtedly could have used a few minor tweaks in terms of timing and pressure. It can be far from unplayable, but it can get awkward when the game is just not cooperating with the player on some of the more difficult challenges.
Hoard! can also run at smooth frame rate and high definition resolution on all platforms, but sometimes there can be some technical bugs with the puzzle functionality. Sometimes the buttons on a puzzle may randomly stop working or not work at all when you hover over them. With the aforementioned “reload room” button combination, problem solving is never a problem. Even so, it is rather strange that these issues occur with a number of elevator style puzzles.
The gameplay might not be perfect, but where Hoard! thriving is in its adorable aesthetic that features a clean cut paper world. Similar to the above Yoshi’s craft world, Hoard! takes on the characteristics of a diorama-inspired atmosphere. The majority of its locations and items are made from cardboard, but the game takes a few liberties to feature paper origami-like elements that help improve the visualization of the world of environmental details. It’s always a joy to consider the game’s block theme, as it’s still a nailed-down and cozy and playful habitat.
By the way, Boxlings’ customization is worth mentioning as it gives players an extra touch of individuality. From standard cardboard and mail envelopes to sushi rolls, TVs, and watermelons, character outfit swaps are just great. Hoard! plunges further into his madness. There aren’t many unlockable costumes in the in-game store, but what’s here is entertaining for both the single-player and multiplayer segments.
Speaking of extras, Hoard! offers an additional multiplayer mode containing four mini-games. Strangely, it has to be unlocked throughout the main campaign by solving specific off-road puzzles, but the payoff is well worth it. It’s odd that these mini-games are compensation for the player’s exploration efforts, but they are a fun bonus, although it probably should have been available from the moment players step into the game.
Whether you are playing alone or with three friends, Hoard! Box by box packs a good time. The game’s use of its basic mechanics never gets boring as it attempts to mix its line of boxes storing unique properties with its expansive platform. If developer Seed by Seed was tweaking the main jumping mechanic and perhaps adding their multiplayer mini-games to the main menu, Pile Up! would probably be as ideal as it gets. It can be nice to play solo, but for those who clinch the title, have friends delivered to your home because Hoard! is more of a cooperative explosion.