Full on taxi-cab-confession: I’ve been working a lot of hours lately. Since this (sadly) isn’t what I do full-time, I’m forced to keep a day job and mingle with common folk so I can pay the bills and feed my gaming appetite. This is why you’re about to read a review about a game you play in your browser that features ascii art.

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a lollipop today...

I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a lollipop today…

On the surface, this seems like something that would be phoned in. Maybe it would seem like something someone would do out of desperation (sleepy and overworked) or because they’ve run out of ideas (research on other articles isn’t done). I assure you that both of those reasons are perfectly applicable to this situation.

However, just because I’m throwing a hail mary, that doesn’t mean I’m doing it without a purpose. See, “Candy Box!” is an odd and very interesting game. Beneath it’s crude exterior lies a game that is deceptively quirky, deep, insane, and brutally difficult. It’s a game that pulls no punches and doesn’t even necessarily tell you why it’s punching you in the first place. If you go in with no expectations or prior knowledge of the game, it will reward you immensely.

“Candy Box!” is a game about discovery, which is another reason this is going to read like something that was phoned in. See, I can’t actually tell you anything about “Candy Box!” without actually ruining “Candy Box!”. The evolution of the game’s mechanics, how you come across them, and how you use them is the core of the game. Divulging what you do in “Candy Box!” defeats the purpose of playing it.

However, if you’re not sold on the idea of trying out a free browser game, then I will summarize the game very briefly. This is a rough description of what goes down in the game:

  1. Accumulate candy

  2. Doctor Who shows up to sell you stuff

  3. Start a lollipop farm

  4. Go on quests through forests, castles, hell, and beyond

  5. Kill monsters, get loot, forge weapons, answer riddles, brew potions, etc.

  6. Finish the game, do stuff that gets even more weird and existential

  7. ???

  8. Profit!

The things you do in this game don’t really click when you’re actually in the process of playing it but, looking back on it, it’s fucking batshit nuts.

“Candy Box!” is constantly evolving itself, both mechanically and in how players perceive the game. It starts off fairly whimsical, then takes you into the bowels of the underworld, then… further than that. It’s hard to pin down what genre it is too because while it seems fairly RPG-ish, it isn’t, really. But, I’m not entirely sure WHAT to call it, so we’ll just call it “Candy Box!” genre.

Honestly, if you’ve read this far without playing the game, you’ve already seen too much. I mean, the game is free and doesn’t even require downloading anything. Hell, it barely even requires your active attention for more than five minutes at a time. More often than not, you’re going to just be letting it run in the background while you do other things. Why, you say? Eh, play it and find out.

“Candy Box!” is fascinating in that it succeeds in doing something that, conceptually, sounds terrible. But it manages to be captivating anyways despite what it is. Give it a shot and let it suck away a bit of your life. Even if you don’t like it, you’ll at least walk away wondering what the hell you just played, and I think that’s pretty special in its own way.