Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure is a 90s style open-world platformer with a whole lot of colour, charm, and character. Players take on the role of Newbie, a sentient cardboard box prophesized to be the saviour of the soon-to-be-bankrupt Global Postal Service (GPS for short). Taking control of Newbie and learning the ropes of being a self-delivering cardboard box will see Newbie adventuring across four distinct, different worlds. If you’re a fan of physics based platforming, you’re going to love Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure.
GPS is in trouble, and in dire need of a revival. Newbie is that revival. A cutscene introduces our corrugated champion, along with some of the game’s main characters – Dash, Bounce, and Digi. These characters are a staple of Newbie’s Adventure, providing challenges and advice along the way.
Starting off on the tutorial world, you will soon discover that movement as a box is a little more… clunky than the usual bipedal protagonists we have come to know and love. Newbie will roll and bounce around on all corners, which takes a short while to get used to – it’s not everyday you’re controlling a self-aware cardboard box, after all. Once you have the hang of basic rolling and ground navigation, it’s time to learn to jump. Apparently boxes can jump. Jumping will get you so far, but soon you’ll find a ledge that is just out of reach of Newbie’s aerial movement…
Which is where Unboxing comes in. Like a Russian matryoshka doll, Newbie can shed his cardboard skin, revealing a slightly smaller cardboard box. This serves as an additional jump and is incredibly handy when you are at risk of plummeting from a radio tower. The maximum amount of Unboxes is capped at six – giving you a total of seven jumps, including the original standard jump. You replenish your Unbox ability by either collecting health boxes or reaching a checkpoint – which are of course, post boxes.
No platformer would be complete without an attacking move set. Newbie’s attacks are limited to slamming enemies by jumping in the air and slamming down on them with full force. Weapon boxes also provide Newbie with fireworks, however in the main game, these boxes are few and far between, except for in specific challenges.
Unboxing is the niche of this game, and it truly sets it apart from the plethora of platformers out there. I can honestly say that this movement system is one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of playing with – perhaps the absolute best since Just Cause 2. Based on momentum, Unboxing can see you travel from mountain to mountain with ease, taking in the game’s snow world – Parcel Peaks – in the process.
Speaking of worlds, Newbie’s Adventure spans three main worlds, each with stamps to collect, Zippies to free, and Golden Tape to gather. Stamps are the game’s main collectable – you will have to complete challenges and hunt for them in the open world in order to progress and face the world’s boss.
Zippies are small, generic boxes which have managed to be captured by the Wild Cards – the rebel boxes who are the game’s main enemy. They feature in all the game’s worlds – their leader, Boss Wild, is Newbie’s mortal enemy and the biggest threat to GPS. Each world culminates in a boss battle against Boss Wild. These are quite generic – throw Boss Wild off a tower three times, shoot his helicopter several times, and so on. However they are mostly enjoyable and not too frustrating, which has certainly been the case in other related titles.
In order to earn the privilege of fighting Boss Wild, you will have to collect an increasing amount of stamps on each world. It is these Stamps which are gifted to you by boxes after completing their challenge, as well as being hidden around the game world. You can navigate to challenges easily using the D-Pad and you will be directed towards the character with the challenge! Personal favourites are Dash’s races around the islands, as well as Hop’s challenges. Mainly because Hop is an absolute psychopath.
Which leads me on to say that it’s quite incredible that so much character is conveyed in this game. Each character – bear in mind they are boxes – has a unique personality and quirks. Bounce is a spritely box, eager to help. Cray is… a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Dash is a speed-freak who will have Newbie completing races in a rally car on ice. The challenges can get a little repetitive as themes and objectives are repeated across different worlds, but the worlds are so distinct and different, you probably won’t mind so much.
It must be said that collection addicts will adore this game. Each world – including the tutorial world – has 200 Golden Tapes to collect. The Golden Tape will provide cosmetic customisation options so you can be the best looking box the world has ever seen. In order to change your box, you will have to find your way to Swift Tailoring. It’s unfortunate that Golden Tape only provides you with ways to change your box – a better use would probably be to provide power-ups, maybe increasing the limit of unboxing, or perhaps allowing each jump to fire Newbie higher or further.
Somewhat ironically, navigation in this game is the biggest drawback. The movement system, as I have said, I adore. Finding the challenges is easy enough. Looking for that last stamp before you can take on Boss Wild though? Man, you are in for a runaround. You can speak to Bounce, who is… somewhere in the world, who will give you a snapshot of where a stamp might be, but unfortunately when you’re looking for a stamp in a snow-world with multiple mountains, everywhere is snowy, so it’s hard to distinguish where that pesky stamp is hiding. There is no world map to check off where you’ve been, so often I would end up searching the same place over and over. No wonder GPS is going out of business!
Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure is not just an experience for you, the fun can be shared with family and friends in the game’s local multiplayer mode. There are a total of five game modes: Collect, Boxing, Oddbox, Thief, and Delivery. Collect is a race around a map to collect more Golden Tape than your opponents. Boxing will pit you against other boxes with rockets – essentially a shootout between you and your friends, the winner is the box with the most kills. Oddbox is a King of the Hill gametype, requiring you to hold onto being the Oddbox for as long as possible to win. Thief has you collecting coins from opponents that have dropped them. Perhaps most appealing is Delivery. It’s essentially Mario Kart, but with more cardboard boxes. In Delivery, you will race your friends across dedicated maps crafted for the best multiplayer experience, utilising a variety of weapons and powerups. You can freeze your enemies, or perhaps suck them into a black hole. Maybe you’d prefer to be sneaky and trick them with a fake weapons box?
The local multiplayer is a surprise, and a pleasant one at that – it was a lot more thought out and well done than I had anticipated and I had a lot of fun – mainly on the Delivery mode. It’s a real shame that there is no online multiplayer as I feel that this could really cement Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure into a “must buy” category for any Xbox One gamer.
Overall though, Newbie’s Adventure is oddly addictive. Even just roaming around the vast worlds as a cardboard box, taking out groups of Wild Cards with the slam ability and in general just chilling out is hugely enjoyable. The controls might take a little while to get used to, but once you’re in full flow you will be gazing over at a distant mountain, looking at your unboxes left and thinking “yeah, I can make that jump.”. And you probably can. There are nail-biting moments when you aren’t sure if you’ve horribly misjudged the distance and still somehow redeem yourself. Taking part in the challenges set by your fellow cardboard colleagues are fun and simple to understand, but they can also be quite tricky to complete. The only frustration you will experience in Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure is not knowing where to go in order to progress.