Drifting through space with just a brain implant to keep you company is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but it does make for an excellent premise for a game. Crew 167: The Grand Block Odyssey is a puzzle game all about the liberation of humanity, via travelling to a new planet. When the protagonist’s brain implant starts to go haywire, he starts having visions of boxes everywhere, and the only form of relief comes from kicking these boxes around and into place.
Hoping For a Bright Future
It’s not always a priority to have a strong story in a puzzle game. Sure, some do, like the Portal series or The Talos Principle, but more often than not they are seen as games that you have to put more effort into polishing the puzzles rather than keeping the player intrigued throughout. It is a point where the developers of Crew 167 can take great pride, as their story is a touching tale, with themes of depression and struggles with mental health intertwining with the protagonists main mission – to bring hope to the people of Source, his home planet. It’s extremely engaging and, as someone that has struggled with mental health issues in the past, it definitely struck a chord with me.
Back in 1993, a game released for the Super Nintendo based off the kids television show Goof Troop. You might think it’s a bit odd that I bring this up in the middle of reviewing Crew 167, but mechanically, the games are very similar. In order to solve puzzles, you boot objects around a room so they all fit together and you can progress. It was a game I thoroughly enjoyed back when I was a child, and it’s a concept that has been expanded on and works exceptionally well with the scores of puzzles that have been created in this game. There are various different box types to boot around, and it’s extremely quick and easy to reset a puzzle if you’ve found out that you’ve buggered up a section. You also visit various different worlds, so the themes of the puzzles expand as the game progresses and it is a tremendously addictive game to try and perfect.
For an indie game, I was quite surprised to hear they had voice acting in it. Usually in an indie game, it’s either text only, or a relatively poorly recorded and acted display, but in Crew 167, it’s fantastic. All the voice actors are terrific, which I was genuinely surprised with. No audio hiccups, no umms or ahhs, no hammy actors trying to be more than what was required. Everything was genuinely spot on, and the voice actors should definitely be commended for their performances, because I was surprised – but in a good way – with the quality of them. I did have a slight quibble, which we’ll come on to later, but on the whole the acting was spot on.
There are a few design decisions that I don’t agree with in Crew 167. The first was the voice acting. I know, I already wrote how terrific it was, but it wasn’t present throughout the entirety of the game. It was in every cut scene, and in some of the sections where you’re out of a cutscene, but not in every one. I couldn’t really figure out why you’d have only around 75-80% of the game voice acted, when you’ve shown you could feasibly make it completely voice acted. The other thing I wasn’t quite so fond of was the lack of tutorials – a point the game actually has some pride in. I don’t understand this, because I don’t think the game is as intuitive as the developers think. It’s not that I couldn’t find my way around, and the majority of the puzzles are relatively straight forward and easy to work out, but a gentle nudge in the right direction goes a long way in my book.
The Final Word
I think, mechanically, Crew 167: The Grand Block Odyssey is fairly simple. It doesn’t try to add in too many weird and wacky mechanics to confuse the player and that’s to its credit. The puzzles, combined with the story, make for an incredibly enjoyable and absorbing title that you will spend a good few hours in. Although there are a few bits that require some polish, overall the game, for what it sets out to do, is extremely good.
Review code supplied by developers.