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This satisfying $7 mobile puzzle game is money well spent

A box in Boxes: Lost Fragments has an octopus on it.
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If you’re looking for a new mobile game that’ll keep your hands busy and you have $7 to spare, Boxes: Lost Fragments is money well spent.

Developed by Big Loop Studios, Boxes: Lost Fragments is a moody puzzle game where players are tasked with opening 20 intricately designed, themed puzzle boxes, all while unearthing a creepy gothic narrative. If that sounds a lot like The Room series, it is. You can either read Boxes as a total ripoff or a respectful homage, but one thing is certain in either case: It’s extremely satisfying.

While Boxes originally dropped on PC in February ahead of an iOS port last week (Android is still coming), mobile is the ideal way to experience it. The concept is familiar: When I start, I’m given a mysterious box covered in latches, switches, buttons, and puzzles. It’s my job to open it up and get the mysterious fragment inside. I accomplish that through remarkably intuitive actions. While I see a latch, I naturally know to swipe my finger up to open it. When I find a screwdriver in one puzzle, I instantly know how to drag it to a screw and turn it to loosen it. It’s a tactile gameplay hook with little to no learning curve.

Other puzzles get a little deeper, though Boxes never gets overly complicated. Its more about sleuthing out hidden compartments in boxes, finding items, and figuring out where they slot into the contraption. The more involved riddles, like using rotating contraptions to move symbols to their proper position, take a little more brainpower, but are rarely complicated enough to get frustrating. Boxes even includes a clear hint system that points to the next object that needs to be solved, as well as a Skip Puzzle button to bypass its trickier, execution-based puzzles.

Symbols appear on a puzzle in Boxes: Lost Fragments.
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It works especially well as a mobile game thanks to the bite-sized length of each puzzle box. Each one takes no more than 15 minutes to complete, which is perfect for a quick distraction during lunch or while commuting.

Considering that there hasn’t been a new game in The Room series since 2020’s excellent The Room VR: A Dark Matter, I welcome a well-made tribute to the series in its absence. Big Loop Studios nails the formula here, packing each puzzle with thoughtfully designed interactions that carry a toy-like charm. One box, shaped like an ancient Greek theater, has me swiping to pull a hidden key out of a lyre, slotting that key into a keyhole, turning it with a twist of my finger, and discovering a crossbow that I can attach onto a moving cart and fire off with a tap. The smooth lead-in from one puzzle makes each one a delight to solve.

If you’re not sure that loop will work for you, Boxes has a pretty generous free trial. You can download the game for free and play its first eight of 20 puzzle boxes. You’ll have to pay $7 to get the final batch, but that first handful will give you a clear idea of the full game. If you have as much fun with it as I did, that price tag will be worth every penny.

Boxes: Lost Fragments is available now on PC and iOS devices. An Android version is coming soon.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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