It is hard to believe, but yes, Babol The Walking Box is really the name of this game. In Gamecom Team’s latest work, we actually play the eponymous box and run, jump and puzzle our way through colourful 3D levels, which in their best moments are reminiscent of the PlayStation classic Crash Bandicoot. Unfortunately, the game has some problems and can not achieve the quality of the prominent role model.
The game breaks down the core elements of 3D platforming to a minimum: besides specifying the direction of travel, we only need one button to jump and one to attack. With this, we beat our way through linear hose-like levels, dodging enemies, deadly traps and explosive boxes. So far, so fun and straightforward, you could think. However, Babol The Walking Box makes its beginner-friendly basic principle frustrating, with some glaring design flaws and technical imperfections.
First of all, there are the imprecise controls, which in combination with the fixed (!) Camera perspective lead to a large number of unwanted and unfair on-screen deaths. In addition, the checkpoints are so far apart that you have to play the same sections over and over again due to a few tiny mistakes.
Another problem is the sometimes completely illogical puzzles in which the symbols on locked doors are supposed to be recreated by touching floor panels. We often stood in front of these doors for minutes and pondered what might be the right solution. Here, too, the camera perspective cost us additional grey hair, as we could never see the door and the floor panels simultaneously.
A good idea in itself is the passages borrowed from Crash Bandicoot, in which we have to run away from a boss monster by moving towards the screen. Because of the imminent threat, the lack of an overview creates particular tension. But here, too, design blunders such as invisible objects or unfair spots make the whole thing a trial and error ordeal.
If you torment yourself through the challenging gameplay, at least some nicely designed level landscapes and somewhat humorous arena boss fights await us in the 3-hour game. The game’s humour is also well done, reflected in the absurd background story and some strange conversations with other boxes.
Similar to Gamecom Team’s previous title, A Day Without Me, you notice Babol’s short development time, which, paired with ambitions that are too high, ensure an unpolished gaming experience with gross design flaws. It’s a shame because the team’s approach towards an entertaining platformer is not wrong, but a significantly lower level of difficulty would have matched the casual overall impression. Babol The Walking Box is too imprecise and straightforward to keep up with the greats of the genre and too frustrating to serve as a relaxed but entertaining jumping experience.
Hopefully, the developers can learn from these mistakes and incorporate the learnings into their next game Parakacuk. However, if you want to give Babol The Walking Box a chance, we strongly recommend trying the free demo first.
Babol The Walking Box is available for PC on Steam. The console versions are to follow soon. This review is based on a free review copy provided by the developers.