Most games rely on a certain something that helps it stand apart from the crowd. In Unbox: Newbie's Adventure, that hook is the fact that you play as a self-delivering, cardboard box working for the Global Postal Service (GPS). However, apart from this fairly original idea, Unbox does little to set itself apart from other 3D platformers, making this game likely to find a niche fan base of people looking for a true collectathon, something slightly lacking this generation.
In Unbox: Newbie's Adventure, you play as a sentient, self-delivering, cardboard box named Newbie. GPS is going under, and you alone can save the postal service from bankruptcy. While that isn't much in the way of a story, it does lead you through three fairly large open environments filled with other characters who can occasionally say something funny. While the whole experience may seem a bit childish at times, it still had a bit of charm, which more than made up for any flaws I might have found in it.
Of course, story isn't the main reason you would be drawn to Unbox. That, my friend, would no doubt be credited to Unbox's three open-world environments that I mentioned earlier. While 3D platformers have been making a resurgence lately with the likes of games like Yooka-Laylee and Skylar & Plux, we haven't really seen a true open world 3D platformer like Unbox in a while. Each of the three islands that you explore is distinctly different, filled with collectibles that are well hidden but fun to look for and around a dozen missions that you can play through to help you progress. Unbox's main feature is its open world, and it really hits it out of the park in this respect.
However, another critical element of any platformer is how it controls, and in this respect, Unbox falls short. While the game introduces some interesting ideas like the unbox mechanic, which could potentially let you jump up to six times in the air without touching the ground, this mechanic often feels like a bandage trying to fix a much larger problem. My biggest gripe with the game is the almost complete inability to perform precise jumps. I understand that giving a cubic shape the ability to jump with semi-believable physics must be difficult as a developer, but far too often I found myself redoing the same section of an obstacle, not because it was difficult, but because it felt like control was completely out of my hands.
Speaking of difficulty, this is another shortcoming of Unbox. While the game occasionally seems impossible due to poor controls, more often than not, I found the game to be ridiculously easy depending on what I was doing. Any mission that has you collecting items or fighting enemies was a breeze, including some boss battles. While missions requiring pinpoint platforming were often frustrating, they were balanced by the pure enjoyment I got from racing. If this game was entirely made up of an open world filled with collectibles and races, I may have absolutely loved it. Each of the three islands has three races each, but I gladly would have played through many more. Each race strikes the perfect balance of difficulty, and although there is obviously platforming involved, it is much more forgiving and isn't at all frustrating.
Besides these side missions, most of what you are going to be doing in Unbox is exploring the world and searching for collectibles. While I briefly alluded to this earlier, I think it's important to know that Unbox: Newbie's Adventure is thoroughly a collectathon. It's in this way that the game succeeds in paying homage to old-school 3D platformers. Each world has two hundred pieces of gold tape to collect, as well as a couple of other boxes locked away in cages that need to be freed and stamps that help you progress through the story. I found myself going out of my way to collect as many of these bits and bobs as I could when I wasn't completing side missions. However, the only thing you receive when you collect all the tape, for example, is a new cosmetic option. This means, after beating the game, I have little interest in going back and collecting all the things I missed.
I'd now like to touch briefly on the game's multiplayer. This will be brief mostly because there's not that much to it. You can play split screen matches with up to four people, competing in challenges like races and who can collect the most gold tape in a certain time frame. While the option for multiplayer is nice in theory, I found the available options and the matches themselves to be rather shallow and couldn't find much replayability in any of them other than the races. Even then, they weren't as fun as the ones in single player.
While Unbox: Newbie's Adventure is a solid game, it's a shame that it does little to set itself apart from other games in its genre other than with its quirky premise. Still, considering the fact that we don't get many open world, collectathon platformers these days, I do recommend Unbox to folks who can't get enough collecting. As much as I can point out flaws in the game, there's no denying that it is fun to play and it was definitely worth the time I spent playing it.
Unbox: Newbie's Adventure has its shortcomings, but what it offers at its core is all that you can really ask for. It's a proud collectathon, and the three bustling open worlds really allow this fact to shine.
- Inviting Open World
- True Collectathon
- Fun Races
- Charming Characters
- Poor Controls and Camera
- Lackluster Side Missions
- Low Difficulty