Years ago I was first introduced to a charming little game called, The Impossible Game. It was simple, fun, and brutally hard. In fact, as its name claims, it was pretty near impossible to actually play. Death was a certainty and getting through each level was more luck than it was skill. Velocibox is the spiritual successor to that other impossible game. It’s fast, brutal, unforgiving, and I can’t stop playing it.
Velocibox is a minimalist endless runner. In the game, you control a cube as it speeds down an infinite hallway. Coming at you are various obstacles that you need to steer around. If you touch anything, it’s game over and back to the beginning. The goal is to collect as many pick-ups as possible to earn enough points and advance to the next level. Though, once you get to the next level, things get faster and even more dangerous. If the obstacles on Level 3 are near impossible, the ones waiting for you in Level 4 will shatter your soul.
One thing that makes Velocibox so appealing is that in addition to its extreme difficulty, it is also insanely simple to understand. You control the cube and make it go left or right. Once you hit the wall, continuing in that direction will make you climb and rotate the room. Your only other option is to hit the X button to instantly flip the room over and jump to the other side. The controls are tight and precise. All you need to do is survive.
Best of all, when you die (which happens frequently) the game starts back up instantly; no wait time, no loading screen; just another quick go to try and defeat the level that just killed you. It has that ultimate “one more try” feel to it. That instant restart often times made me play for an additional 20 minutes even after I wanted to rage quit. Maybe I’m just too stubborn to know when the game has me beat, but I wasn’t going to give up. Sure my average run may only last around five seconds, but once everything clicks and I made it to the next level, the feeling was absolutely exhilarating.
Velocibox offers two different modes to choose from. You can select either ranked or free-play. In free-play you select any of the levels you’ve already unlocked and try to beat it. When you collect enough pick-ups, you advance to the next level which will then be unlocked in the selection menu.
Ranked is the mode that lets you compare your skills with other players from around the world. You start at the beginning of level one and try to score as many points as possible in just one run. This is the mode that separates the boys from the men… or men from the women? Girls from the women? Whatever. It separates the weak from the strong. It’s the mode that shows me just how bad I am at this game. I try and try but my name just will not climb the leaderboard. And when I look at some of the top scores, some of which are 50x higher than my best, I curl up in a fetal position and cry in the corner.
The graphics in Velocibox may be minimalist, but they really work for the game. The simple shapes and straight lines help to build an environment that is filled with challenges but free from distractions. This is important when the pace of the game picks up and any additional fluff would only get in the way. In contrast to the art, the music is a thumping electronic soundtrack that gets the heart pounding. It reminds me of the Daft Punk score for TRON: Legacy. I love it.
As much as I enjoy Velocibox, I also have a few issues with it. First, the game is hard. Perhaps a bit too hard. Too often I felt as though I was making it through a level based purely on luck as opposed to skill. But the difficulty is subjective, and while I find it a bit on the unfair side, others might find it suits them perfectly well.
The other issue I had was that there are times when you can’t move your cube fast enough to avoid death. In a number of places throughout the game you need to take a very specific path in order to survive. There were a number of times where I knew what I had to do, but my little cube just wouldn’t go as fast as I needed it to. This only adds to the frustration.
Overall though, I really liked Velocibox. I must be a glutton for punishment. I group this game in with The Impossible Game and Jet Car Stunts as a game that is impossibly difficult but incredibly addictive. I may never rule the top of the leaderboards, but I really don’t care. With each run I’ll get a little better and hopefully one of these days my average session will last at least six seconds.