I love puzzle games! They are fun, they keep my mind sharp (I think) and when competing with friends it feels like winning has to do with brain power, so I’m more eager to prove them I’m smarter rather than luckier. Box It is the latest puzzle game I fell in love with. I have been playing it for 3 months now, and it’s still fun.

Gameplay experience

When I started playing this game it was very intuitive. It’s a clone of an old PC game I used to play called Xonix, with a few twists. I wouldn’t give the game a high score on originality, but sometimes re-makes of existing genres are the most fun to play. If you played Candy Crush or Flappy Bird you should know what I mean.

If you haven’t played Xonix, let me explain the concept in a few words. The game is played in a rectangular area. There are evil dots, and there is your dot. The latter moves on the side of the rectangle, while the evil dots move inside it, in straight lines, and bounce off the box’s walls, in angles you can easily predict. As you swipe your finger on the screen: up, down, left or right, your dot will leave the walls of the box and will travel within it, leaving a trail behind.

While your dot is not on the wall it’s exposed, and if one of the evil dots touches it or its trail, you lose a life. However, if you safely make it to another point on the wall, the area you boxed fills up and is counted towards your captured area. The goal is to capture at least 70% of the box area.

Mastering the art of boxing evil dots

The trick is to capture evil dots within your boxed areas. In this case, those will disappear from the game, leaving you with less evil dots to deal with. This skill is key to master, as at some point you may find yourself facing up to 9 enemy dots. Dodging those without capturing some of them can make it impossible to win.

The way I go about doing this is by setting traps. First, you box out an area that is close to an existing wall, creating some sort of long hole between the box wall and the new area you boxed out. Now, you keep your dot in that area until one of the enemy dots ends up into the hole, and as soon as it’s there, you move your dot across the entrance and capture it. NAILED IT. Feels really good to capture those damn dots!

Evil balls trap
Evil dots trap

Game progression and sense of achievement

To make the game interesting for the long run, the developer created worlds and levels. Each world has a set of 9 levels. Starting from the second world, there is an area in the middle that makes it harder to predict the evil dot’s movement, and at the same time serves as another obstacle for you to avoid. Each world has a differently shaped middle area, while levels differ by the number of dots. One area where the game could be improved is the visualization of the user progress through the levels.

Recently improved – easy access to the store

When the game launched, it was hard for users to access the store. The last update has brought some improvements, but there is still room for development. However, now it is easier to reach the store from within the gameplay, or between sessions. Still, there’s a problem. Users can play more sessions instantly every time they fail. Without some waiting mechanics, there is not enough motivation for users to check out what the store has to offer.

Needs more focus on giving users currency

Box It is one of the games that can use more focus on the coin loop. As a user that just started to play the game, it took me a long time to realize that I’m earning some sort of currency when playing. There is very little indication of that on level completion. Once I did realize I have some buying power, I checked the store only to realize that there is nothing in it I can afford with the coins I collected. This is a bad practice. Getting your users to engage with your virtual economy is key for long term retention and monetization. I would recommend two changes:

  • Improving the earning of currency: add sounds, make the balance visible and randomize the gained amount;
  • Balancing the buying power of the coins by matching the lowest priced consumable item with the number of coins gained in one session.

Missed opportunity – adding lives

The developer of this game is missing out on one great opportunity to better monetize the game: adding lives. This trick was used by one of the most successful puzzle games ever: Candy Crush Saga by King. The idea is simple. You give users lives to start with. Every time they fail, one life point is removed. Once users run out of lives, they can wait or buy extra lives.

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