Developed by: Prospect Games
Published by: Merge Games
Release Date: July 26th 2017
Reviewed on Xbox One; also available on PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch.
The Global Postal Service (or GPS) is in crisis and only you can save it. As Newbie a self delivering cardboard box and at the behest of Bounce, Dash and Digi, your fellow boxes, you will traverse the dangerous Paradise Isles then Parcel Peaks completing missions whilst looking out for the evil Wild Cards and eventually defeating their leader Boss Wild, in this very colourful, charming, open world platform adventure game for all ages.
Controls are simple enough but controlling Newbie isn’t. Boxes don’t tend to roll where you want them to. And so simply pushing the left joystick in the desired direction isn’t enough. The terrain can be uneven and so it’s quite easy to roll off a dock or over a cliff. Fortunately you can jump and even change direction in mid air. A jump won’t get you far though but there is also an unbox jump, which means you shed one of your six layers and leap further and higher. What’s more you can chain unbox jumps so you can keep jumping without touching down. Handy if you want to travel distances across water or higher, trying to reach those high platforms than one unbox jump can’t reach. You can replenish the unbox jumps by collecting health. Due to the simplicity of the controls, Right trigger or bumper lets you jump and Left trigger or bumper lets you unbox. When you reach Parcel Peaks, you will also do a lot of sliding as well as rolling. The right joystick is for changing the view of direction while the letter pad has various functions such as “X” for interacting, “A” for firing projectiles and “Y” for giving you a wider view around Newbie. “B” lets you slam opponents. This means jumping and then coming down with force. Slam a Wild Card and they will vanish once landing with an amusing series of rotating rubber ducks around them. Using the direction pad left and right will also let you find the nearest missions. You can also drive various vehicles around the locations although this doesn’t appear to be necessary.
Both major locations feature many puzzles of varying degrees. There are trapped Zippie boxes to free, and objects to find. There races to be won, towers to climb and villages to clear of Wild Cards. Once you complete a mission you will get a Stamp. Collect enough Stamps and you can then fight Boss Wild. You will also get a reward that lets you customise Newbie from the tailor shop. This is merely cosmetic and does not change how Newbie acts, but is fun nevertheless, especially for young gamers. Also, beware once you fight Boss Wild , you cannot go back immediately to the previous location so if you haven’t freed all the Zippies, collected all the Stamps and Gold Tape then beware. However, there is enough variety to keep you interested for quite a while and although it all looks very cartoonish it can be fiendishly difficult. It’s very likely that you will have to attempt most missions on a number of occasions. Various missions are timed in some cases and falling short can be a pain, but there is always an option to either try again or quit, which will send you back to the open world. Reactivating the mission at a later time is easy enough and the mission giver might actually remember you gave up last time, which is quite cute. The boxes all speak in a delightful gibberish, although subtitled, which brings real charm and personality to the game. There is also, as mentioned above, for the collectible fans amongst you, 200 rolls of Gold Tape and hard to find Stamps strewn around each location. One good thing, is that once you have collected the item, even if it is during a mission, it stays collected, and even if you die which usually means Newbie exploding in a shower of those little polystyrene shapes you find in packaging.
Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure uses the Unreal engine and everything is crisp and colourful with very little lag in most cases. The races are clear with very little motion distortion. You can move around quite quickly and there is no loss of quality.
Sound is totally customisable. You can turn off either the music or the sound affects or both if you like. The sound effects are quite realistic, there are splashes, explosions, the noise Newbie makes, changes when going over different terrain. Even without the accompanying music it’s a very busy soundtrack. The music is fairly limited and changes from time to time, especially if Wild Cards are about and during the Boss battles but mostly it plays a jolly calypso tune which can grate after a while.
There is a local multiplayer option where you can battle a friend in split screen. There is no online multiplayer which is a shame.
I came across a few but these were not actually “playing” related. Even if you get stuck in a location you can re-deliver yourself to the last checkpoint, so that’s a good failsafe. There is one bug that if you leave the game on pause then going back to it once your controller has reconnected then you cannot continue. This is solved by Pressing the Home button on the controller then “B” to go back to the game. A minor bug, but a bug nonetheless.
I liked Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure, it’s fun to play and I imagine young gamers will enjoy its colour and settings along with the rather cute talking boxes that help Newbie on his way. Older gamers will enjoy the variety of the missions and that they can be quite challenging giving a sense of accomplishment. A game for all ages and one that could possibly see a sequel in it’s future