I just finished a great browser-based game, but you have to play it a little to understand what’s so great about it. So go do that right now, and come back.
I know what you’re thinking. “WTF is this?” Your screen probably looked like this:
I got the same reaction from a bunch of people. All I can say is click on that link up top, and wait. If you still don’t see any magic, learn the definition of “wait.”
(No peeking. Play!)
So your screen should look like this now:
So begins what I consider to be one of the coolest games I’ve played in a long while and all because of its complexity craftily hidden by simplicity. I’ve been hooked on this game. After you realize the key to the game (ahem, waiting), the merchant eventually offers you a sword, and so begins your journey into a fun RPG with so many quirks and surprises that you become completely addicted.
Although Candy Box doesn’t offer a deep story, I find myself hesitant to reveal too much because every new layer it adds on is an interesting surprise. Still, this is a feature, so let me tease you with promises of upgradeable weaponry, potions, magic scrolls, a giant dragon, the Devil himself, and a humble reference to the epic battle with Shadow Link. In this game, eating millions of candies doesn’t give you diabetes; instead, it makes you stronger.
But strength alone isn’t enough to get through Candy Box. After clearing a handful of levels, you realize that you need to explore the other features, such as your inventory with maps to other places, your lollipop farm which requires dutiful investment, and learning to answer silly riddles. Despite the sometimes questionable localization (the developer is French), it’s important to read all descriptions and directions carefully to figure out how to get ahead.
Levels simply consist of your player character automatically moving from left to right across a handful of screens. When you encounter an enemy, its statistics show up on the screen, and each second represents an effort from both of you to kill each other. That’s it. There is no music, no cutscenes, no fanfare at all. Most enemies, save for a few, are represented by three-character abbreviations of their names, and you don’t even see weapons and magic in play. Yet you create your own drama. The first time you fail a level, the punishment being a few minutes of cooldown, you feel so defiant that such a simple little game bested you that you will devote needless time investing more candy and lollipops and effort to move on.
Candy Box is completely free. Despite the features it shares in common with F2P games on Facebook and iTunes, you’re never given the option to pay for progress. You and everyone else are on the same playing field and need to wait and strategize. The only necessity you’re at risk of losing is time, and that’s entirely up to you particularly because it’s not a game that even needs you to monitor it. Instead, I will tell you that if you want something fun and quirky to play at work (or at home) with a surprising level of depth and intrigue, play Candy Box. You’ll be hungry for more when you’re done.
Or keep throwing candy on the ground and complaining. I won’t stop you.