Bloxitivity is a puzzle game from 55 Revolver, who you may know from their creation of the popular RPG Maker software. Like their previous work, Bloxitivity relies heavily on the user to utilize its tools in order to make content for other users. Unlike their previous work, it does feature a more niche appeal. Do you like Sokoban? Would you like it with some extra bells and whistles, and in 3D? If not, then you might want to look elsewhere. However, to puzzle enthusiasts and people who absolutely demand their games accept user created levels, this could be for you.
Most of what goes on in Bloxitivity is moving some blocks, called Blox, onto accordingly colored goals, called Goals. You with me so far? You can do it by pushing, or also by pulling, so that’s one thing it has on Sokoban right there. There are also multiple colors of Goal, so try to make sure your color coordination is up to snuff. On top of that, there are teleporters which move one kind of thing from place to place instantly, and conveyors that push stuff along on their own, kind of like the more annoying Chip’s Challenge levels. The game’s inclusion of enemies is also reminiscent of Chip’s. Floaty little pyramids called Tetras can attack you or glom onto the Blox to make them immobile until you push them off into the water with your little tractor beam. Did I mention you’re a robot with a tractor beam?
Yeah, you’re a robot, or I guess maybe some kind of simulation that looks like a robot? The first thing you see when the game runs, other than how tiny the default window starts, is a little comic about the backstory to this block-pushing/pulling odyssey. It begins by saying “You have been exiled inside the Simulation Grid for tetracycling, the process of turning scrap into energy eating tetras.” and right off the bat it raises some deep questions about this universe. Presumably there’s an excess of energy here? Which is why having tetras around is something they want to have happen? Furthermore, if I’m some other kind of extraneous physical matter, then I must be in the material universe, or else they’d just delete me and make something else rather than ‘tetracycling’ me. Yet, it’s called the Simulation Grid, which implies that this is all some kind of digital illusion of a world. Very strange.
Continuing, the intro states “After managing to steal a piece of experimental displacement technology you begin your escape by progressing through levels of the Simulation Grid, but the Creators intend to keep you trapped by creating an endless array of levels.” Okay, so they’re the antagonists, but also maybe my creator god? Maliciously keeping me trapped in a perpetual torment rather than just putting an end to my suffering through their presumably total control of this environment, given that they can make ‘levels’ at will. Maybe this is all some kind of trial where if I can manage to leave, I’m free, but they don’t want to let me win because of their personal hubris and complicated interdimensional politics.
In reality, Bloxitivity lives or dies based on how much you like the puzzles that other people are making for it. At the time of this writing, there are five Steam Workshop levels available, three of which were made by the programmer and one of which was made by me, so I don’t know if I can really give it a fair shake in that regard. If you think you want to play loads of puzzles, maybe there will eventually be some, but for now the twenty five included levels will have to suffice. They’re fine levels, scaling the difficulty slowly and gradually introducing the more advanced gameplay elements. One pleasing surprise I noticed is that Bloxivity both includes Steam Achievements and Trading Cards, so that’s something to keep in mind if you like those.
There were a few interface problems I ran into as I was starting off. As noted, the default window is squintingly small. After fiddling with the resolution and windowed mode, I found that many of the button graphics were misaligned with the actual clickable buttons. 1280×600 with windowed mode ended up working out for me in the end, so try that on for size. If you haul right off and click ‘Play’, you’re dropped straight in no-nonsense style, and no amount of knowledge about the nature of the Simulation Grid will prepare you for actually playing the game. Since I was playing without using the mouse at first, I couldn’t manage to push things, merely pull them with left-alt. On the first level, I developed an advanced technique of pulling Blox onto the gridbox I was standing on, then jumping around them before being pushed off the edge as they aligned themselves to the grid. Fortunately, I found out in the tutorial that left and right clicks can operate push and pull. That makes things a lot simpler.
The tractor beams have an impressive range for affecting Blox, but one thing to note is that the Blox can actually be pushed off the edge and make a level impossible, with no sort of alert to let you know it has happened, which could be frustrating. The platforming and jumping mechanics are also kind of temperamental and difficult to control, and the camera angles usually don’t help much. The music is good, and doesn’t grate on the nerves with repetition like some scores can. There are a variety of tracks as well, with the weather of each map changing with the music. The graphics are nice overall, if simplistic in design. Most objects are, of course, blocks, or else triangles, circles with particle effects, and the like. Animation on the robot is simple, and nothing else really moves except the floating enemy Tetras. The deadly water-like area that surrounds you is rendered pleasantly enough, and the skybox and clouds look good too.
Bloxitivity feels a lot like a project someone submitted in a game design course at college. It’s competently made, but it’s not really that much to write home about. If you like a game that revolves around its online community of creators, and want to get in on such a community on the ground floor, Bloxitivity might do it for you. The map creation tools are alright, I’ve seen far worse execution in workshop presentations, with Neverwinter Nights coming to mind in particular. However, I still needed to read the tutorial in order to figure out how to make it all work. Admirably, the game prevents you from uploading a level unless you can beat it yourself, preventing any proliferation of ‘troll levels’ before we even begin. Super Mario Maker recently brought the do-it-yourself school of level design to the wider market, and it has shown that you can get into some really painful territory there. If you do enjoy designing puzzles, there’s a lot of opportunity here, but otherwise you’ll be constrained by the lack of content.
Hopefully, Bloxitivity will blossom with time into a vibrant community of creators, sharing maps and expressing themselves together in a mutually enriching environment. At the moment, it feels sterile and lonely, and no wellspring of community is yet in sight. The game has been out for a few days so far to little activity, and if the compete lack of comments throughout the cheery and hopeful development blog is any indication, no one has particularly been awaiting its arrival. Steamspy reports about 600 total owners, give or take. The lone cognizant Steam review mentions that the price is too much for what you get, which is a sentiment I agree with. Nevertheless, don’t let any of this stop you from considering a purchase if this sort of thing is your bag of marbles. As the Parable of the Meeting Stone taught us, if no one uses a thing just because no one uses that thing, no one will ever use the thing to use the thing with.
Bloxitivity was reviewed on Steam using a copy provided by the publisher.
This game is a nice toy for the puzzlers among us, but has a bit of a high price point for what it is. If that doesn't bother you, and the core gameplay is enough to be appealing, it's worth a shot.