Considering most virtual reality games tend to have motion controls, it's not surprising that a lot of these titles turn out to be major cardio workouts. Whether you're swinging a sword, firing off a machine gun, or even defusing a bomb, you're bound to break a sweat due to your constant flailing body movements.
As a result, games that are designed around helping gamers get in shape are starting to become more commonplace, which is good because there's no better way to trick people into exercising than by hiding their workout inside a video game. BoxVR is a great example of this, as its gameplay is all about punching and squatting, which should have you burning calories in no time.
Let's Punch Objects!
BoxVR gets straight to the point when it comes to its presentation. Once you load in, you tell the game your age and weight, and then dive into its various exercise programs that are organized by length. These range from about five to ten minutes, all the way to nearly a full hour of straight-up virtual boxing.
The core mechanics are fairly simple. You stand in one position and a host of different orbs come flying at you. You use whichever motion controller you have for the platform you're using - PlayStation Move controllers for me - to punch these orbs before they get past you. Blue orbs are for your left hand, and purple orbs are for your right hand.
Some orbs will have a little directional trail that will require you to strike them with a different kind of punch, such as a left or right hook, or an uppercut. There are also imposing barriers that you will need to either squat underneath or dodge to the side to avoid. Finally, there's a symbol that will come at you in the middle of the screen that can only be beaten with a well-timed block of your controllers.
If this all sounds familiar, that's because it's very reminiscent of Beat Saber and other VR games where you stand in one place and swipe at things flying into your face. But BoxVR does seem like it's trying to be more of a workout routine, as the objects coming at you are all set to the rhythm of the music and the programs all have a short break in between songs for you to catch your breath. You can also see how many calories you've shed in the process of battering all these orbs.
Sound And Fury
After playing the game for around 45 minutes, I definitely felt the burn and needed to take a significant shower. The programs you can take on start out relatively easy, but they ramp up in difficulty and speed big time. Focusing on connecting a punch while also working in some squats can be intense and exhausting, and it doesn't take long to develop some sore arms and legs from all the exertion. That said, it's very enjoyable to play and it can be easy to lose track of how long you've been wearing that increasingly foggy helmet.
The graphics are fine, with some vibrant neon colors for the objects you're punching and dodging. The backgrounds are nicely textured, but you only get a selection of three, which doesn't make for much variety in your environments. However, you're likely to be so in the zone while playing that you probably won't even notice where you're boxing, so it's a non-issue. The music selection is also fairly good. They're all up-tempo electronic and hip-hop tracks that wouldn't be out of place in any ordinary gym. They do an excellent job of getting you pumped up and provide a perfect flow for the gameplay, although there wasn't anything so good that I felt the need to run out and download the Spotify playlist.
BoxVR has the option to play in multiplayer, so if you happen to hang out with other people who own VR helmets, then you can go head-to-head and see who has the better cardio. Aside from that, there aren't a ton of extra features. If you came for a game that's going to make you sweat while boxing to a catchy beat, then that's what you'll get. Nothing more and nothing less.
I'm Coming For You Bald Bull!
Utilizing virtual reality to help get gamers up off the couch is a great use of the technology, and BoxVR is about as good as it gets when it comes to fitness games. It's a fast, challenging, and entertaining way to try to lose some extra pounds with your VR helmet. I doubt it'll help you train for a real-life boxing match, but BoxVR is as fun as actually punching someone in the face without any of the legal repercussions.
A PlayStation 4 review copy of BoxVR was provided to TheGamer this review. BoxVR is available on PlayStation 4 and PC.