What is the nature of addiction? The Oxford dictionary defines it as ‘the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming‘. Is it safe to assume that addiction is subjective, that it effects everyone differently? There’s certainly such a thing as an addictive personality, which can have a bearing on the severity of the case. I wouldn’t have previously described myself as fitting that particular mould, but months swamped in gaming apps have swung me slightly to the dark side. However, none have compared to Steve Meyers and Michael Gilbert’s BoxOff. Deceptively simple, it is in fact, a ladder. Leading down. The further you get into it, the more work you have to do to get yourself out of it. The app is dangerously free, and out now for iOS.
Okay, maybe that opening paragraph was a little hyperbolic, but you get the gist. BoxOff is furiously addictive, and that’s not always a good thing! Though most of the time it is. You will have REAL trouble putting this thing down, which comes to bear as a problem under any number of circumstance; a pressing need to go to the bathroom, an increasingly irritated mother calling you for dinner, a sulking girlfriend in lingerie sitting on the corner of the bed; you get the idea.
The gist of the game is simple. But not really. You’re presented with a number of what they call ‘stones’ but inescapably reminded me of Tiddly Winks (‘Tiswas! Who remembers Tiswas? And Spacehoppers!’). The gameplay takes place on a grid of squares and consists of a series of moves; the task is to move one stone onto another of the same colour, within a rectangle or square shape on the grid. You can use as many of the gird squares as you like, but they can’t contain any other stones; just the two you’re connecting. It sounds complicated, but it takes a mere minute to get the hang of and the stones are flying this way and that around the board in next to no time at all.
Thankfully there’s an ‘undo’ button, as moves get pretty complicated in the later stages. The first few levels you’ll fly through, but come the later stages, when the grid expands to countless squares and a rainbow of coloured stones fill the screen, you’ll be a-tappin’ on that ‘undo’ button with alarming regularity. Fortunately, the harder stages of the game are also where BoxOff becomes most engaging. An absolute triumph for handheld device gaming, if you’re into mind-bending puzzles that can be played rapidly and don’t mind losing most of your evening to a game featuring colored circles, set your phone to airplane mode, power down the laptop, and enjoy the solitary solitaire challenge of BoxOff.
Box off to the App Store to get acquainted with BoxOff today for free!