Pile Up! Box By Box PlayStation 4 Review

Pile Up! Box By Box is a multiplayer game best experienced without max participants.

By Fragnarok, Posted 08 Sep 2021

Pile Up! Box By Box is a puzzle platformer developed by Seed by Seed and published by HandyGames (a THQ Nordic subsidiary for smaller games). The game takes place in a cute fantasy world where everything is made of cardboard or paper, even the wind, and water. Teams of one to four local players control colorful sentient cardboard boxes trying to set things right after a nasty storm sweeps across the land.

Each player character has a few moves they can utilize. There is a basic short jump, able to get on top of or across a single cubic space. For larger horizontal gaps, players can use a charged dash. Players can also pick up generic boxes, set them down carefully, or toss them short distances. If a box lands on top of another, it will stick as a column. When holding said pillar, players have the option of kicking out the lowest box in the totem. 

Pile Up! Box By Box|HandyGames|Seed by Seed

What makes this even more dynamic in multiplayer is that each player-controlled box still functions like cardboard boxes found on a level: they can be picked up, thrown, and stacked. This means the more players the faster puzzles can be completed by using them in place of objects. Still, every puzzle can still be beaten solo, though it may take more effort to engage with everything.

Not only are there standard boxes to play with, but certain ones around each stage will also have special properties or powers. For example, a “ball” box will bounce around when it is tossed, while a “spring” box will send players to even greater heights. One of the first of these alternate boxes is the “frog” box, which launches a tongue that retrieves items when jumped on. Another box can even be placed on top of it, making it constantly lash every few seconds.

Pile Up! Box By Box|HandyGames|Seed by Seed

Teams start off in the hub zone, Boxling Square. Here players can select a level, buy new costumes, engage in competitive challenges, or explore around for extra currency. The yellow cubes scattered around the game are used to purchase costumes and other rewards, while packing tape can unlock special zones or other secrets.

All levels are made up of various separate rooms, each indicated by a cardboard roll with an arrow. Sometimes there will be multiple long paths to rooms with more currency or unlockables but are otherwise dead ends. There often isn’t an indication on which way is progress, so players will need to wander through different routes until coming across the main goal. 

Pile Up! Box By Box|HandyGames|Seed by Seed

Many rooms are devoid of puzzles, while others will have some combination of stacking, throwing, jumping, hitting switches, or even removing objects from pressure pads. If a player does fall into a pit or other hazard, they will instantly respawn at the room’s door and any held object reset to its initial location. However, some puzzles do involve actively respawning or resetting, as this will often still leave some switches in place and gates open.

Puzzles are not always isolated in a single room, and can only be solved by bringing objects from multiple different rooms together. This typically isn’t an issue in multiplayer, where every object can be taken by different people, but can occasionally be tedious when alone. This is because the column removal action only kicks boxes, leaving non-box-shaped items stuck and possibly inaccessible after being stacked. Solo players may be inclined to carry every free box around the entire stage. That is unless a gate or room contains a trash zone, which destroys any held objects. For the most part, this is a sign to discard whatever items, while other times players will instead need to make pixel-perfect tosses to clear the zone lines.

Pile Up! Box By Box|HandyGames|Seed by Seed

Pile Up! Box By Box is best experienced with two players, as the cooperation will help puzzles progress more smoothly. Unfortunately, most puzzles aren’t designed for players three and four to significantly contribute, leaving them to feel more like children being chaperoned than equal characters. With four players, Boxling Square’s arcade is a much better option. These include verses modes like basketball, football, and capture the flag. However, one will need to playthrough the campaign to unlock each of these.         

Pile Up! Box By Box is unfortunately bogged down by numerous bugs. The game runs fine at the default mid-distance camera but suffers immense slow down when either pulling back to show large rooms or zooming up close to the player boxes. This slow down can also lead to some input lag, as the character will still move and jump even if players cannot visually tell what is happening at the moment.

Pile Up! Box By Box|HandyGames|Seed by Seed

The biggest issue is that the autosave system is very unreliable, sometimes failing to record hours of gameplay progress or rewards. In some cases, the game will freeze altogether or crash back to the PlayStation 4 home screen. When this happens, it is frequently possible for all three to save data slots to wipe completely.

Pile Up! Box By Box has a lot of really fun concepts that can entertain and challenge one or two players cooperatively. But when additional players are added the experience just gets cluttered. Worse, there is no telling when a major bug will suddenly end all of the fun and cause one to lose everything. Until a fix is made, Pile Up! Box By Box should be treated as a one-off party game for visiting guests instead of a potential sprawling adventure.

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): HandyGames
Developer(s): Seed by Seed
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Platformer, Multiplayer, Adventure
Release Date: 2021-08-23

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