In a post-climate-change future, humanity has embraced genetic splicing to help them survive Earth’s cold atmosphere. In addition to keeping them warm, this procedure also had the added benefit of allowing them to hibernate, which is perfect for long interstellar flights. In this future, Vix, the protagonist of FixFox, is trying to make a living as a space mechanic. Unfortunately, Vix isn’t a very good mechanic and appears to be very close to losing her job at the start of the adventure. Luckily for her, someone is needed to repair an ancient interstellar beacon, and with her knowledge of old machines, she appears to be the perfect candidate.
Vix is accompanied on her journey by her trusty toolbox, Tin, who takes her safety very seriously. Much to Tin’s dismay, the pair crash-lands on a mysterious planet, which appears to be run by robots. With no hope of rescue, it is up to Vix to figure out how to fix the beacon and find their way back home. However, her task is made a little more complicated because tools are forbidden on Planet Karamel. Undeterred, Vix simply resorts to rather unorthodox methods of repairing the quirky machines found on the planet.
Although FixFox’s story starts deceptively simple, it quickly becomes a lot more complex. The game remains wholesome throughout but isn’t afraid to tackle topics such as past traumas, regrets, and even prejudice. Everything is handled in a way that even younger players will understand, though, and there’s also plenty of humor along the way to keep things light. While FixFox allows players to explore as much as they want, the main story is relatively linear and easy enough that players of all skill levels should be able to complete it without much trouble.
Like its protagonist, FixFox as a game also consists of various styles spliced together. Most of the adventure involves exploring your surroundings and traveling between different objectives from a top-down perspective. This can be done on foot, but Vix soon gains access to a type of scooter that makes the trips much faster and more enjoyable. Players can either zip between all the different points of interest or take some time to loot all the stashes scattered everywhere. The advantage of doing the latter is that it will fill up Tin with all kinds of unconventional tools. Apparently, these stashes are the work of robot pirates, who frequently clash with the other main faction on the planet, the Order of Tools. Players can ignore these factions for the most part but must keep an eye on how many stashes they have looted or machines they have repaired. Only a certain number of each is allowed per day, and daring to attempt more results in one of the factions showing up to loot Tin instead. Interestingly, players only have to listen to a broadcast from radios that can be found in almost every town to reset this limit, which makes its inclusion a bit puzzling.
In addition to the laid-back exploration, the other activity players will engage in the most is the repairs mentioned earlier. Everywhere Vix goes, she will encounter machines and appliances that are broken. Due to the ban on tools, the local robots cannot fix these, but Vix can do so using everything from bananas and band-aids to coins and spatulas. For the most part, these repairs are very obvious so that players can use a coin instead of a screwdriver and band-aids instead of electrical tape. However, before Vix can use any new items, she must first talk to an “Oracle,” who will then inform her about the properties of the items. Later on, repairs become even stranger as some machines have components that will only work if Vix applies a certain “glow” or “flavor” to them. Tools can degrade and eventually break, but we had ten times more than what we ever needed left in our toolbox by the end of the game. The repair sections all feel like little mini-games, and while none of them are exactly challenging, they remained fun throughout.
Finally, when Vix is not exploring or repairing things, she also has some puzzles to solve. Once again, none of these are really taxing, but they make for a nice change of pace. The puzzles range from using a power loader to moving heavy things to the right spots all the way to negotiating the maze-like interiors of junkyards using the right combinations of tools and switches. Unfortunately, a lot of the game involves repeating the same set of tasks in each new area, and towards the end, we got a little tired of finding new parts and placing new beacons repeatedly.
FixFox is also a game that isn’t scared of doing its own thing in terms of visuals and presentation. The 8-bit pixel art style definitely has a lot of charm and allows for an adventure that spans multiple diverse regions as well as the space around the planet. Although simple, the visuals also feature plenty of impressive designs, such as the giant mechs that Vix must find and assemble to pull, dig, and driller her way through some puzzles. Furthermore, the game doesn’t enforce any sorting for Tin, so players can stuff it with as many weird and wacky tools as they want. The result is pure chaos, and we often had to dig underneath layers of postage stamps, spatulas, scrap metal, feather dusters, and food to find the item we were looking for. Of course, some players might find this annoying, but they are free to organize Tin as efficiently as they want.
One of our favorite elements of FixFox is the soundtrack, which is filled with catchy chiptunes. Many of these songs, especially the one that plays in the Salty Desert area of the game, was stuck in our heads for days. FixFox is the work of a small indie team, so it lacks voice acting, but this is understandable considering the large cast of unique characters. Vix is a typical silent protagonist, but the overprotective germophobe Tin makes up for this with plenty of humorous quips. The game does have a lot of great sound effects, though, and the lack of voice acting doesn’t detract from the experience in any way.
Despite combining many different gameplay styles together, the controls in FixFox are straightforward and accessible. The game can be played with a keyboard and mouse or a controller. We preferred the keyboard and mouse, though, as some of the mini-games, such as the repairing, felt like point & click adventures. For example, Vix must select the right tool from Tin when attempting repairs and then move it “up” towards the top of the screen to take it out before it can be used. Likewise, when eating cozy meals with the robot locals, players must click on the food with a spoon and then move it to the bottom of the screen for Vix to take a bite. It can feel a little clunky at first, but once players get used to the way things work, it adds to the game’s charm.
There is no denying that FixFox is a very ambitious game for an indie title, and Rendlike did a great job combining so many different gameplay styles cohesively. The developer’s focus on only making games that promote kindness and friendship is also very clear with FixFox. The game’s lack of challenge and feel-good nature is certainly not for everyone, and the visuals are also an acquired taste. However, players willing to give FixFox a chance will find a surprisingly deep game with charming characters, a wholesome message, and plenty of surprises.
- OS: Windows 7 or later
- Processor: SSE2 instruction set support
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia Geforce GTX 660 / AMD Radeon HD 7850, 2+ Gb of vram
- Storage: 2 GB available space