Community Generated Puzzling : Bloxitivity

Bloxitivity is a puzzle platformer where each level is composed of a series of square platforms suspended above an infinite sea of water. The aim of the game is to move the coloured blocks, or blox, of the area into specified squares, all while not falling into the water. You do this by maneuvering yourself into a position where you can either push or pull the blox across the map. Some blox are immovable and others can be moved freely around the map without needing to place them into a goal square. Along the way there’s other hazards and obstacles which can aid or complicate the process, such as enemies, conveyors or teleporters. Enemies can be pushed or pulled away, similarly to blox, and teleporters can transport the player, blox, or enemies across the area. Though the game starts in an FPS view and so can be regarded as an ‘FPS Puzzler’, there are multiple camera angles including a top-down camera that proves rather useful when figuring out the puzzle solution.

The main game has a decent audio and visual design with some neat touches like audio cues when enemies are near and even a customisible skybox. There is a short story and a decent fistful of levels that start off slow and get more complex as the game goes on, introducing mechanics slowly and providing a good introduction to the much meatier part of the game, the level creation aspect. While a good chunk of levels are pre made and ready to play, the main draw of the game is certainly the level editor, allowing players to quickly and efficiently create and distribute their own levels via the Steam workshop. Even now, mere days after release, theres a good selection of levels, ranging from simple platforming challenges to sprawling open levels with a huge number of blox to move into the correct places.

Alongside this has sprung an impressively friendly and welcoming community that shares these levels, but also challenges each other to complete them in different ways, such as speedrunning, or in finding the least pushes and pulls required to complete a level. Add to this that the developers have been impressively quick to respond to feedback and deliver updates, and you have a happy little circle of developer/player interaction which a lot of titles these days lack. It’s certainly got the feel of a game where the community is the core of its continued lifespan, and something for players to come back to regularly.

However, during my playtime I started to realise something, a problem with the design of the game that in some cases threatens to cloud the whole experience. The problem is not in the puzzles themselves, which are pleasant enough to figure out, but that actually executing the solution of the puzzles is rather boring, and in my opinion would have been more suited to a fixed top down camera and a touch/swipe interface. Moving yourself into the right positions so that you can push or pull blox in the direction desired may be the intended method for interaction with the game world, but in some cases it slows down the solution execution to a crawl. What makes it worse is that the platforming and the enemies in a lot of cases make this tedium frustrating, as you have to line yourself up for a jump only to miss or be knocked into the water, and no mid-level saving means if you fail in this way you have to restart the whole puzzle again. I found it much better to figure out the solution and then just quit and move to the next level without actually executing it.

Its possible that I might just be used to slightly faster paced puzzle games, and that for others this slow pace and chain of finding the solution/moving to where you can execute the solution/repeat will be seen as relaxation at a leisurely pace rather than a tedious annoyance between solving puzzles. Add that to the previously mentioned community spirit and content around the game, and I can see why some people might find a lot to enjoy here. For me personally however, it is a decent idea that is let down by its execution.

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