An ever-evolving puzzle game that defies description
Date played: 20th January 2021
Team: Jamie & Mim (sorry NPH, we did it as a duo!)
Time to finish: 1hr 14mins
Talk of BoxONE has been doing the rounds a lot in the puzzle scene recently. In part, it’s because it’s designed by celebrity escape room aficionado and man-of-many-talents Neil Patrick Harris. And a large part of it is due to its scarcity.
The game is an often sold out Target exlusive in the States, it’s notoriously hard to come by. And, coupled with the doulble whammy of Covid-19 and Brexit, we don’t tend to see many copies in the UK.
But then my puzzle comrades-in-arms over at Review The Room offered to loan me their copy.
Who was I to say no?
Box ONE is an ever-evolving game of trivia, codes, puzzles, and discovery – only from the mind of Neil Patrick Harris.
There’s tons of great party games — but unlike the rest, Box ONE is designed to challenge just ONE person: YOU! And you alone.
Prepare to set out on an exciting adventure like no other as you discover, decode, and unlock the secrets of Box ONE.
Look closely, though, as with all things – there’s more than meets the eye…
Highly deceptive and well put together
You’d be forgiven for thinking at first that BoxONE didn’t have much to it when you first open the box.
But the game has been carefully designed to evolve as you play, with secrets and surprises galore.
BoxONE oozes showmanship in a way befitting Neil Patrick Harris’s theatrical and magical credentials. The quality of the game is excellent and the components are solid, coupled with an online interface that’s intuitive easy to use, even on mobile (this point shouldn’t go unnoticed – mobile-friendly online puzzle interfaces are a rarity).
It’s difficult to talk about the theming of BoxONE without entering massive spoiler territory. But believe me that there’s more than meets the eye with this game, and the stakes definitely ramp up rather quickly.
Come for the mystery, stay for the a-ha moments
You know that feeling you get when you’re in an escape room, where you pull a book off a shelf and it causes the whole bookcase to swing outwards into a secret room?
Yeah, BoxONE is basically that feeling throughout the entire game.
There is a point in the game where you have to wait before continuing, but you can get around it without breaking the game (Animal Crossing fans will know what I’m talking about).
The puzzles themselves weren’t all that challenging, and escape room veterans are likely to find this quite an easy game. People with less experience are likely to find this a perfect introduction to the world of play-at-home escapes.
An escape-room-enthusiast brain would likely uncover many secrets before the game prompts them to, so I’d recommend reining that impulse in and letting the narrative guide you.
But there are more than enough a-ha moments throughout the game to keep you engaged regardless of your level of experience.
Solid post-game debriefing
We used one or two hints towards the end of the game. The hint system was pretty standard but got us back on track pretty quickly.
There’s a wonderfully satisfying post-game debrief that really hammers home how much passion has gone into the game.
We got a post-game email that had reset instructions so we were able to pack up the game and send it on to another puzzler to play, too.
A deceptive and thoroughly enjoyable puzzle experience
BoxONE‘s evolving gameplay is an incredibly satisfying to experience, regardless of your experience as a puzzler. But for newer players especially, this is a perfect introduction to the genre.
Although we tackled it as a duo, I’d recommend going with the game’s instruction to play it solo. But if you’re in a team, no more than two people.
If you like the ‘big reveal’ aspect of playing escape rooms, then this is definitely a game you should play.
Designed by Neil Patrick Harris
Cost: $29.99 (GBP)
Duration: 1 hour
Requirements: Laptop / smartphone with an Internet connection