“Okay, I got this” I said after completing world one of Bloxiq‘s seven world cube-based puzzler – but it only took until world two to start doubting not only my video game skills, but my critical-thinking ability in general. I had no clue about the madness I was stepping into, and apparently a developer over at Blot Interactive even called it “the Demon Souls of puzzle games.” Boy, am I glad I didn’t read that before hitting the colorful Bloxiq bubble on the Vita’s UI for the first time.
I’ll put this really simply for you; playing Bloxiq feels like getting smacked across the face with a Rubik’s Cube – a really big one.
It’s hard for me to start with anything but the masochistic intentions set by Blot Interactive. Bloxiq is for gamers into puzzles; and when I say puzzles I don’t mean those goofy shoot-the-target game mechanics found in Zelda, I mean puzzles that will have your brain lit on fire (…and I’m tempted to add “literally”).
Each stage has one master cube, with smaller colored cubes inside of it. Four or more smaller similar-colored cubes make a match, which is done by moving the rows on the master cube. Early on most of your tasks will be to match all colored cubes, but it gets much deeper than that with time limits and move counters. Time run out? Bloxiq doesn’t care how close you were to solving the puzzle; it’s game over. Did you move the cubes too many times? Have fun wanting to throw your Vita across the room, bus, restroom, nightclub, etc.
Sooner than later, different puzzle mechanics start getting thrown at you a little too quickly. In order to match cubes as you progress, layers, multimatching, chains, bombs, and many, many more road blocks are put down in your path to becoming the world’s biggest nerd (and yes, you read that correctly; beneath the top layer of colored cubes is another layer which you’ll have to match with the top layer). My god, this game is insane.
My favorite part in Bloxiq was having to make sure that other similar-colored cubes stayed as far away from each other as possible before I moved forward with my plan to match another set of cubes. A plan that had to be scoped out along with the dozens of scenarios that ran through my head simply because it was better than taking the risk to make one wrong move and starting all over.
Initially, chains and multimatching seem like easier ways to get past the Professor Cube (the really big Rubik’s Cubes I mentioned) in Bloxiq, but just like every other insane mechanic put in by Blot Interactive they make it even harder to manage your available cubes. For example, I matched four blue-colored cubes only to have two other green cubes fall into the bottom layer, where they matched up with the two green cubes waiting down below – the thing is, I still had two more green cubes left… so game over. Oh yeah, and there’s also something called a Bomb Cube which will end your game if it reaches zero. Fun.
The upside of Bloxiq wanting to bring out all the anger ever stored within you is how satisfying completing most levels can be. I mean, I’ve played some hard video games – but there was nothing like putting the final four blocks together in a level that took an hour of my life away. Yeah, that happened… a lot.
A nice surprise was the use of the Vita’s touchscreen, as your finger will allow you to move the cube from left to right, side to side, and diagonally. The two thumbsticks do the same thing, but the touchscreen made moving the cube a lot more convenient and natural – it just feels right. Addtionally, the rows on the cube are moved by holding down either L or R, and moving the row in any way you wish.
Bloxiq isn’t a cheap game with regards to mechanics, it’s just really, really hard if you aren’t aware of the challenge Blot Interactive set out to create. I constantly took breaks just to think about how incredible it was that just a few human beings were able to make 100 of these intricate puzzles across seven worlds (spanning an empty classroom, the desert, and space itself) in such a way that they will so easily suck dozens of hours away from your life. The people at Blot are truly geniuses.
Speaking of the worlds, each of their 10-15 levels has one song out of the Bloxiq soundtrack in it. These songs tend to blend into your surroundings – like the mundane beat inside of the classroom and the stereotypical desert tune heard throughout decades of media – however they make for relaxing background music. That said, once I started seeing red and cursed every single cube in the world, the last thing I wanted to hear was the game’s version of elevator music.
Looking back, it seems like Blot Interactive wanted to make a puzzle game that is easy to learn, but difficult to master – and they went too far. Bloxiq is not for the weak-minded; this game will tear you down emotionally, maybe even enough to manifest itself physically and make you smash the next Rubik’s Cube you see into a thousand pieces. It’s a hardcore puzzle game made with puzzle fans in mind, and it’ll make life harder for even the most skilled gamers out there.