BOXLIFE is an interesting and challenging puzzler that fits well with its Art Style brethren.
Art Style: BOXLIFE is the third entry in the DSi branch of the Art Style series and, like the others, it operates on a simple premise. In this case, it's cutting and folding pieces of paper into boxes.
In each stage, players are presented with a single sheet of paper. This paper must then be cut into segments that can be folded into a box. In the first level, players only need to utilize the "S" shape for box creation. The first stage of that level simply shows the shape and allows players to quickly and easily fold up the box. In the next stage the paper will have two "S" shapes that must be cut apart in order to fold each of them individually into two boxes. As you go onward, more "S" shapes are included in the paper, and players must quickly and efficiently create the boxes before the stage and level timers run out.
Each level introduces a new shape for players to cut out of the paper. The second level introduces the "t" shape. This shape is incorporated with the "S" shape in the previous stage, and players must properly identify each one, cut them out, and fold them up quickly. As you might imagine, by the time you reach the eighth stage, you have so many different box shapes that picking out which shape combinations will eliminate all squares on the paper sheet is certainly no easy task. This difficulty is amplified further as players approach the last level. Fortunately, the game realizes how tough it can be and offers some form of a hint. If players have yet to solve the puzzle about halfway through a stage's timer, they will be given a breakdown of all the box shapes contained on the piece of paper. If players act quickly enough they can sneak by with one lost point. If they've already made some headway, they might just make it without a penalty. However, even with this help feature, it's still tough in the harder levels to visualize exactly where each of those shapes fit on the piece of paper.
The R&D mode as described above, is comprised of fourteenlevels, each becoming successively harder due to both the increase in sheet size and introduction of new box-making techniques. Each of the fourteen levels contains ten stages worth ten points each, totaling a possible one hundred point score. If players manage to complete their tasks quickly enough to beat each stage's individual timer, they should also be able to beat the level's timer, allowing them to cut and fold all of the necessary boxes in order to achieve the one hundred point maximum. If players lag in any given level, they will start to lose points. It starts with the loss of one point but can quickly move up to five if players aren't moving fast enough.
The Factory mode is even more unforgiving. Players are given a giant sheet of never-ending paper and must cut and fold it as efficiently as possible. The game carries an interesting theme that comes out strongly in this particular mode. By placing players in the shoes of a factory worker, the game essentially pokes fun at life and the "daily grind." When the game is booted up, it shows a diorama that is basically representative of their in-game character's life as a whole. In the Factory mode, players make money as they create each box; however, each sheet of paper wasted is docked from players' Factory pay. Falling bombs are also a huge threat in this mode, because they will destroy a number of sheets at a time and segment the paper, making it tough to fold proper boxes. Thankfully, players are rewarded ten-fold if they can fold the bomb into a box before it explodes.
As players earn more and more money, the diorama at the introduction screen is further spiffed up with fun new goods that people in real life would also use to buy with their paycheck. This theme of work sets the tone for the entire game. Ranking is done in terms of titles like "Craftsman" or "Apprentice". Progress is shown on quarterly report charts with line graphs. Even the game's color tone is grey throughout, giving off a very bland and boring feeling, clearly parodying the daily grind. The music could be described as plodding, obviously to give a rhythm to the "bland" work of box creation.
The interesting part of the game is that it ties this theme together and inadvertently makes it fun and enjoyable, thanks largely to the mechanic of actual box making. As it turns out, the task is extremely cerebral and challenging. Paychecks don't come easy in the world of box folding, and only the best will make it to the end of their career.
Anyone looking for a fun and unique puzzle game can't go wrong with BOXLIFE; however, the game does become overwhelmingly difficult as players reach the game's toughest levels.