Some games radiate a certain kind of charm the instant you sit down to play them. It’s a special moment, and one that doesn’t occur all to often. However, when it does, you know you are in for a real treat. This is the exact feeling I garnered when I booted up FixFox for the first time.
FixFox is a top-down puzzle game with exploration elements. It was created by a one-person developer by the name of Rendlike. He stated on his blog that visiting a peace memorial in Hiroshima inspired him to create games that promoted kindness and friendship. Well, Rendlike. I’d just like to say this. Mission accomplished! This game is both awesome and unbelievably wholesome.
FixFox takes place in the far-off distant future. Technological feats such as traversing the universe and sentient AI units, are all rather mundane concepts. These advancements unfortunately led to a continuous state of blisteringly cold weather on Earth. To survive this intense climate change, the entirety of mankind was forced to modify their DNA.
The procedure, simply referred to as splicing, transformed the body into some variation of a humanoid animal. This provided humans with fur to cope with the freezing climates, along with the ability to go into hibernation. The latter of these proved to be exceedingly useful for long distant space travel, as it helps to conserve on food resources.
The protagonist of our tale is a Fox by the name of Vix. She works in the field of Space Pioneering Astronics Circuits Repair, otherwise abbreviated to as SPACR. In short, this is the title given to specialised mechanics that travel to various regions of outer space to repair broken machinery.
Although working as a SPACR is a dream come true for Vix, she doesn’t particularly excel at it. In fact, she’s so bad that upper management is now threatening to fire her over her poor performances. Naviko, a celebrity AI and boss that Vix reports too, manages to pull some strings to grant her one last opportunity to save her career.
The task, which nobody else would seemingly take on, is to repair a nav beacon which has recently gone silent. The only problem with this is the planet is located in an untraversed area of the universe. Determined to save her career, Vix, and her AI companion Tin, set course for the mysterious planet Karamel.
Wholesome, yet bizarre
From this point on, the scope of the story becomes much more grandiose. There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and many of them emulate real world problems we are facing today. I strongly suggest that you play this game spoiler free, as doing so elevates the narratives ideologies massively.
Simply put, I loved this story. It captured my imagination in a way that few other titles have recently. The wholesome and laid-back structure, mixed with the odd and humorous NPCs, made for one incredibly memorable adventure.
Scattered throughout the planet are various broken machines that need to be repaired. Lacking any proper tools, you are forced to scour the planet to find random junk which can be used in their place. There are a myriad of items to discover including coins, plasters, toothbrushes and dusters, amongst other things.
Interacting with a broken object will take you to a repair puzzle sequence. This presents you with the internal layout of an electrical device. You have to figure out which components are broken, then analyse how you will go about fixing them. This is where our makeshift tools come into play. For example, coins will be used in place of a flathead screwdriver to loosen screws. Whereas things like toothbrushes will be useful for cleaning off any grime or rust.
The repair puzzles are fairly enjoyable, and do accurately represent the creative zaniness of FixFox. Having said that, there are some issues I have with the system. One massive detractor is the fact that puzzles never evolve or ramp up in difficulty. I kept waiting for advanced mechanics to be revealed, but disappointingly, they never came. I can only hope that the untapped potential for these puzzles will be unlocked in future iterations.
There are also different puzzles outside of the standard repair-based ones. These boil down to basic management and navigation puzzles. While they are a nice change of pace, and help to keep things feeling fresh, they suffer the same major problem as the repair puzzles.
There are a vast number of locales in the game to discover, each with their own themes and identities. You’ll find NPCs that are more than willing to help you out on your journey. Some of these even provide Vix with a nice homegrown meal in the process. The different regions will supply Vix with unique tools, making it much more imperative to get out there and explore.
There is one very annoying mechanic that happens ad nauseam though. At random points, with seemingly no trigger, the current layout of the map will shift and change completely. For instance, areas that were located on the far east might now be located in the north west. Why this design choice was implemented is beyond me, but it did prove to be rather aggravating at times.
The colourful pixelated artwork that accompanies this game is yet another example of the FixFox charm. While it’s not going to blow you away with graphical fidelity, or impress you with state of the art realism, it does harbour a certain ambience.
The various environments encountered in the game feel cosy and effervescent in their presentation. The aforementioned puzzles have an old school point and click vibe, and are very similar to the likes of The Secret of Monkey Island. Additionally, characters personalities shine in this art style, with their expressions visibly changing depending on their mood.
The music in FixFox captures the relaxed atmosphere to perfection. It is full of catchy chiptunes tracks, most of which coincide with the whimsical moments. Fittingly, these feel like something you’d hear on a dubious old piece of software. In addition to this, there are a number of bombastic orchestral pieces. These really serve to enhance the story driven sequences phenomenally.
You also have short musical motifs that are linked to each character. These themes directly corelate with their personality, and help to magnify any sort of tropes or traits they may have. The sound effects in FixFox work very well alongside the art direction. There is a certain campy glamour to them, and they often feel as though they’ve been taken straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon.
Its worth noting here that the music is one of the sole elements not created by Rendlike. Instead, it is credited to Aleix Ramon. Kudos to you Sir for creating an awesome and varied OST.
FixFox is an exceptionally memorable puzzle adventure game. The characters and environments radiate a wholesome and positive energy, similar to something you’d see in a Pixar short. The gameplay is laid-back and enjoyable, though it does lack some substance in the puzzle solving sequences. If your interested in a game that will tug on your heart strings, or simply want something you can relax too, then I highly recommend you pick this up.