Crew 167: The Grand Block Odyssey – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle game
Developer: Oddbreeze
Publisher: Oddbreeze
Platform: PC, Mac
Tested on: PC

Crew 167: The Grand Block Odyssey – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: Great story, Very challenging
Bad: No hints, Graphics could use some work
User Score
7.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Solving puzzles keeps your brain young and in these trying times more than ever before, it’s important to look for meaningful distractions to keep you busy. Despite its long title, Crew 167: The Grand Block Odyssey is a rather straightforward game, with simple mechanics that gradually get harder as you go. But underneath hides an intriguing Sci-Fi story you might not expect.

Story

Starting us off with a narrated cutscene, Crew 167 has a bleak premise. The Earth’s population has grown far beyond its maximum capacity with 11 billion humans and the race has begun to find a new planet that could sustain human life before we wipe ourselves out. Other missions have already failed and you are currently on a spaceship on your way to Hope 9, perhaps humanity’s best bet at preventing even greater disasters, though there is no certainty that Hope 9 will work out. Crew 167 – which is the name of your character – bears the responsibility of bringing the mission to a successful end, something that induces quite some stress on him. Stress that escalates with a malfunctioning brain chip, manifesting in psychological ways and setting up an interesting narrative about human existence and the anxiety that plagues us in the technological age. Besides the cutscenes, a surprising amount of extra lore can be found by reading articles and advertisements on the computers, giving us a look at life back on Earth as well.

Graphics

Crew 167 looks a bit rough around the edges. The main gameplay when solving puzzles presents a top-down view where you can see the entire room at once and this less detailed approach actually works very well. It’s when the cutscenes start that the animation gets a bit wonky. The art style is supposed to look realistic but feels more creepy at times. As this is the studio’s first game, however, this can easily be forgiven. A major element of the game involves a glitching AI and that means a lot of visual effects come into play, though the eye strain is kept to a minimum. You’re even able to turn down the amount of glitching in the options menu to prevent a headache.

Sound

The soundtrack of Crew 167 is nothing to complain about, though it didn’t blow us out of the water either. Most tracks are standard Sci-Fi fare consisting of low tempo piano tunes and while they’re not badly composed, none of it is especially memorable. What is commendable is the voice acting. The majority of the game is voiced, including all cutscenes, and the voice work is not as amateurish as we sometimes expect from smaller indie games, instead enhancing the plot greatly.

Gameplay

Crew 167: The Grand Block Odyssey is a puzzle game with a focus on the story. The mechanics of the puzzles are simple at first, but as you play new challenges are introduced until your brain has to kick in high gear to figure out the solutions. The type of puzzle utilized in this game is probably older than time itself: you’re dropped into a room with a few boxes and some buttons that those boxes will need to be pushed onto. Pushing a box will make it slide into that direction endlessly, until it meets resistance, be that the wall or another box. As straightforward as that sounds, it is easy to get stuck. Luckily you can always reset the room to start over.

Later on, you will come across other types of boxes that complicate matters; such as boxes that can only be moved a certain amount of times or ones with countdowns that limit the number of seconds you have to think about your moves. There are no in-game explanations to these new elements as they’re being introduced, so prepare to spend some time figuring them out on your own. In fact, there is no hint system at all, meaning that if you get stuck, you’re truly stuck. The difficulty of the game increases rapidly later on and isn’t very easy to start with, so if you’re a beginner at these types of games this one might better be left for more advanced puzzlers.

The silver lining is that you don’t always have to solve all the puzzles to proceed to the next part of the game. While completionists are free to tackle every single puzzle they come across, a decent amount of them is actually optional. So if you truly can’t figure one out, you might be able to leave it unsolved and still complete the game. Another fun feature is the sandbox mode, where players can make their own puzzles and solve those of others, meaning that even after beating the game, there is some incentive to come back for more.

Conclusion

Crew 167 sets up a nice little game with an intriguing mystery story hiding beneath it. Easy puzzles quickly change into true challenges that will leave you scratching your head. While the graphics might need some work and some hints would have been nice, the narrative easily overshadows the rough edges and makes this puzzler quite fun, if not a hard nut to crack.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Crew 167: The Grand Block Odyssey - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Jessica
Jessica


Games are my escape and writing is my passion.

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