BoxVR is exactly what you’d expect it to be – it’s a VR boxing game – only the twist is, you box along to songs and on-screen prompts. Developed by FitXR, it stands out against other boxing games, such as Creed, as not only is this a game, it also has a heavy emphasis on being a fantastic way to monitor your fitness whilst having fun. The game is played using a PSVR headset and the move controllers, perfectly tracking both your head movement and your punches.
Now, to put it politely, I’m a bit of a chonk, so this game wasn’t my first idea of ‘fun’ but it’s one I definitely needed to try for my own benefit. Read on to see why, since playing BoxVR, I’ve never been so excited to exercise!
When the game begins, you’re given the option to enter your sex, age and weight. The game uses this to help work out how many calories you are burning. Once that’s done, you should complete the tutorial (there’s a trophy) because it helps you get a feel for the timing on the different markers. Here, you will learn how to jab, hook, uppercut, block and dodge, all using your move controllers and your head. Each one of these markers has a very distinctive look to them that makes them easy to see, with each ‘hand’ colour coded as well. So, if a marker comes for your right hand, it will be coloured one colour, then a different one for your left. These colours can be changed if you don’t like them or if needed for colour-blind people, which is very useful.
There are three different areas you can choose to play in, which is nice. I personally choose the darkest one so the bright markers are the most visible, but the choice is entirely up to you. I did have one small issue with the tutorial, which was that for some reason when I needed to punch with my left hand, the text on-screen would say punch with my right. A little strange but not too much of a problem, the colour-coding helped me realise it was incorrect. This didn’t happen anywhere else in the game though.
I would fully recommend playing this game whilst standing if you can, that way the dodging will feel more natural and you will also get more of a workout, however, it’s definitely still playable sat down if that isn’t possible for you.
So, you may be thinking “this sounds just like Beat Saber”, which is a comparison that it will struggle to free itself from. Sure, there are scores, streak counters and percentages of markers hit/dodged, just like that game, but what makes it different is BoxVR’s dedication to being all about fitness. The game incorporates a calorie counter at all times; it’s always there because it wants you to know how this game is actually benefitting your health naturally while being super fun. There’s also an online mode where you can compete against an opponent for the highest score but I haven’t been able to find an opponent to try out the online component yet.
What makes the experience even better is that the in-game sessions, of which there are 45, have all been choreographed by fitness instructors with knowledge on how to get the best out of you with set performances. Each time you hop into the ring, erm, I mean the game, you can set yourself a daily target. You can set yourself a goal to either lose so many calories or to play for a certain period of time, playing songs until you reach that target with a progress bar keeping you updated as you box. It’s a great little incentive to keep going even if you feel tired; having that visual representation of your target going up will help you want to succeed.
Even if you’re tired and not feeling like there are any benefits, the game shows you at all times how you’re actually doing great for yourself while showing off your rhythm.
You can’t fail on these songs, like in guitar hero or other rhythm games, it’s all about how you’re boxing yourself fit and not how little rhythm you have. If you don’t hit a single marker in time, as long as you’re still doing the exercise, it’s not a problem. The game is super responsive, so even if you can’t hit anything in the beginning, you will improve in no time. Also, there are no delays or dodgy placement issues, everything just works perfectly. That being said, even if you’re still struggling, there will be no embarrassing crowds booing you or flashing screens telling you that you suck (like the original Wii Fit), it’s all about learning and improving at your own pace – which is why it’s a ‘fitness first’ experience over a game.
Once you get started, as well as the online mode there are two other ways to play the game that will depend on your own preferences. Firstly, you can just work your way through each stage which gets progressively longer and more intense. This is probably the best way to slowly build up your fitness to be able to sustain for the longer sessions (around an hour). Or, if you’re already a fit person (show off), you can jump into the sessions in any order you like, boxing your way through the hour-long sessions from the very beginning, if you wish.
Then, my personal favourite gameplay option is that you can create playlists. BoxVR gives you the chance to fully personalise your own workout by allowing you to use the songs in-game to make your own playlist. You can filter the songs based on their length, difficulty or genre and then pick and choose your own songs to play in a continuous session. Being a fan of rock music, I made a playlist using only rock songs for my first playlist which makes the workout feel even more engaging when you’re punching along to songs and sounds you like more. Of course, you can mix and match these songs from genres, if you like, and you can then name your playlists so you know which is which. Once you’ve added all the songs you want, the game will tell you how long your playlist will be, so you can match the playlist to your daily target time.
The flexibility this offers is fantastic, you can control your own workout based on your level of fitness, how many calories you want to burn, or simply how much time you have to play the game. In doing so, it makes the exercising feel much less intimidating because you aren’t stuck doing what you’re told or being put against people who are much fitter than you. It’s friendly for all levels of fitness and all skill levels of gamers so literally anyone with PSVR can, and absolutely should, buy this game.
The scoring system and the streak counter are useful as well because it encourages that sense of competition. If there’s more of you playing and wanting to one-up each other’s scores, you’ll be exercising more and more without even realising. The list of sessions in the menu will show you your highest scores and streaks, so there’s always a way of exercising more simply by wanting to one-up yourself or someone else in your house.
With BoxVR, you’ll find yourself losing weight and becoming much healthier before you even realise. Whether it’s because you intend to burn those calories or show yourself to be a rhythm boxing God, you will be fitter from playing this – which is exactly what it sets out to do. It’s an (upper)cut above the rest of the competition in being a game that is designed to make you exercise but while also being extremely fun in its own right. If you’re anything like me, exercise is one of those words that instantly makes me want to curl up and hide, it sounds like a lot of effort. Well, with this boxercise game, that effort disappears. Yes it’s tiring, yes you will sweat, but who cares when you’re having so much fun doing it?
If I can do it, you definitely can. Have PSVR? Go and get BoxVR. That’s it, that’s my punch line…