Prop Hunt has been a game mode popularised in recent times by the likes of Counter Strike and Call of Duty, all bringing a slightly different take on the hide and seek formula. It’s no surprise then that someone sat up and decided that an entire game based around the concept might work. What the Box? is the result of this idea. But is this the king of prop hunt, or a missed opportunity?
Straight out of the gate you find yourself listening to the most horrific soundtrack in existence, with the title screen music proclaiming “The box is on fire” in the most mundane voice put to a slow, sluggish beat that sounds like it was designed by someone suffering the effects of a week long marijuana binge. It is just not fun to listen to and really this sets the tone for the rest of the game. Yep sorry, but you should get ready because the words “not fun” are going to crop up a lot here.
What the Box? offers up a decent slice of game modes with staples like Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch catered for along with a few others that mix up the formula a little.
One Bullet starts every player with one round in the chamber, you have to earn kills to add ammo and this is probably the best of the modes; it is certainly the one that sees the game come across as intended. Juggerbox meanwhile is like a game of tag where only being the juggerbox counts kills towards score. Killing the juggerbox sees you become the juggerbox and this tends to descend into everyone killing each other regardless of score, ensuring it ends up being absolutely no fun at all.
Capture the Tape is the equivalent of capture the flag, with teams attempting to be the first to steal and take back the packaging tape to their respective bases. The crux here is that the tape carrier moves much slower than other boxes and really has to rely on teamwork to get the tape home. And then we have King of the Box mode – something which is exactly as you would expect; zones appear on the map and you earn points for controlling them. This should have been a good addition to the gameplay scenario of hide and seek, but alas players just run around the area attacking anyone coming near.
The variety here is pretty good however, with all but one of these modes almost completely defeating the point of the game. What the Box? should be about blending in, hiding in the crowd of boxes and striking a stealthy hit when the timing is right. In practice most of the time it all just descends in to madness with players running around completely unstealthily, shooting at each other. One Bullet is the only redeeming mode here and even that has players just aimlessly wandering around in the open.
Playing with friends does work however and this gives the game a small amount of entertainment, but the lack of split screen support means you will be relying on your friends to pick this game up and play online.
Should you wish to go down the online route though and it’s good to see that hosting and joining matches is easy. I have had no issues getting in to a match, and surprisingly the game is quite active which means there are no long wait times to jump in. It is just a shame that so many players don’t see the concept behind it, instead just choosing to treat it as any other run and gun shooter rather than the stealth driven hit and hide game it is. The game also offers the option to flesh out matches, but again, it still all descends into the madness of running and gunning. You will also find that bots appear to come as seasoned pros with an incredible ability to hit you from long range and spot you even when hidden.
And then I must get on to the controls, and it has to be said that these are pretty horrific, even by basic standards. The character movement is fine but aiming appears to be way off the reticule, meaning most of your shots end up missing by miles. There is the option of melee attacks with your supposedly trusty box cutter, but the hit detection here is so poor that you end up spamming the button for a hit. There is no fun, skill or finesse involved and it is simply a case of spamming until something happens. It really can become frustrating and drags down the entire experience.
What the Box? comes with 8 maps in total, all offering something a bit different, however the game’s aesthetic makes for some really bland environments. Textures are flat and lack any depth; everything is static with no movement at all. This can lead to some of the maps getting a little confusing as everything just looks the same. There is thankfully a little bit of variety in a couple of the maps, with one being a Halloween themed churchyard and another set on a snowy Christmas hilltop.
There is one small redemption here, and that is for those who hunt the old achievements. What the Box? is an extremely easy game that allows any player the opportunity to grab the full 1000g, just requiring a couple of hours and no more than some matches against one bot to get them all.
In all What the Box? is a missed opportunity. It lacks any depth, fun or even a decent set of controls. The modes included do nothing but encourage players to ignore the whole point of what has been built here. Honestly I find this a shame as the concept is a great one but it requires some more finesse, modes that encourage hiding and striking when necessary, and above all a control scheme that actually works. And that soundtrack? That horrific drawling soundtrack needs to go.