Box Align X, or simply Box Align as it is known on other platforms, first rocked up on the gaming shores in 2018. Now though, it’s arrived on Xbox with a shed load of puzzles and a ridiculously low price point to boot. Does such quantity and cheapness necessarily guarantee that Box Align X is actually worth your time and money?
Well, no, because those factors alone are meaningless. However I can guarantee that as a total package, Box Align X is value for money and will definitely give your brain a good workout.
Box Align X is a very straightforward and minimalistic puzzler involving 3D cubes, with not even a hint of a narrative or any kind of fancy production to be found. Consisting of 99 levels – yes, it’s a lot – the aim is to make matches of three or more cubes of the same colour, either vertically or horizontally. You do this until no cubes remain, but be aware that every single move must create a match; otherwise it’s an instant fail and a restart for the level. A concept which is so easy to grasp must get monotonous rather swiftly though, right?
It probably would be if it continued with the basic puzzles at the beginning, where for the most part a small amount of cubes are awaiting a connection. Slowly, but surely, different colours are thrown into the mix in more complex layouts that will include verticality. Solving the initial batch won’t take too much brain power and as a result, you may expect to breeze through the whole lot in no time at all. Fear not, because the real conundrums arise amid the fairly regular introduction of quirky new cubes, which freshen up the gameplay very well indeed.
The behaviour of these intriguing cubes range from acting as a wild card, to being suspended in position unable to be moved. Others require matching twice or explode upon meeting certain conditions and take out numerous cubes within their radius. Naturally, the difficulty level spikes when multiple types are involved, but that adds to the fun when you eventually figure out the best sequence to eliminate the lot. The only thing better than solving a level itself is setting off super satisfying chain reactions along the way.
Unfortunately things get a little too tricky once the mystery and the colour-changing cubes enter the fray. Additional trial and error, coupled with the necessary timing to catch the colour you want as it cycles through them, ensures arduous puzzles are ahead. What doesn’t help matters either are the bare minimum of explanations given upon the inauguration of each new feature. They leave you pondering how to actually interact with the cubes and that can be confusing.
Control-wise, it’s going to take a little while to come to terms with the multiple ways in which you can manoeuvre the box-shaped cursor and camera. Due to the high chance of cubes being stacked in a level, the triggers allow the opportunity to switch between different heights at will. Meanwhile, rotating the camera is essential for scoping out the layout and this is doable using the analog stick freely, however more structured rotations can be initiated via the bumpers. I thought the setup was too finicky initially, however the more you play, the more you get comfortable with it and realise it’s the best, most accurate, alternative to using a mouse.
In regards to the visuals, you’re not going to be blown away by Box Align X. The blank canvas style backdrop does accentuate the vibrant colours of the cubes though. On the audio front, the low-key sounds create a tranquil atmosphere with a lovely little perkiness injected into proceedings upon completing a level – such a simple jingling causes added elation for succeeding.
One last thing I believe should be mentioned involves a potential bug or perhaps a coding error, in which a single level seemingly breaks the unwritten rule of every move leading to a match. After scratching my head for an age, I sought out a guide, because it’s impossible without the extra manoeuvre. A strange one, but not unforgivable.
Nevertheless, Box Align X is an addictive minimalistic puzzler that goes for substance over style, succeeding in providing a proper test for your brain. It delivers just short of 100 increasingly challenging, yet rewarding, levels for under two pounds, which is excellent value to be fair. Sure, Box Align X could do a better job at explaining the cube types and some folks may dislike the controls, but these factors aren’t going to hinder enjoyment too much. You’re more likely to be put off by the extremely tricky problems that arise instead.
Still, Box Align X is a great way to spend a good few hours racking your brains for very little cost.
You can purchase Box Align X from the Xbox Store