The cover art is atrocious, but thankfully that's the worst thing I can say about a Voxel Action, the terribly generic title given to this lengthy and mostly satisfying platformer. Just as Miner Dig Deep proved you can't judge a book by its cover, so too does Neo Blog Kossy's game, foregoing any attempt at making people want to play his game by sight alone, poor marketing for a product deserving of better treatment. Despite the bootleg Link character and the Super Mario Bros. brick blocks (including a blatant nod to the game later on), a Voxel Action plays nothing like those titles, wisely choosing to be its own game, or as best one can distinguish itself in the well worn genre.
Initial reception to a Voxel Action is hohum, another project platformer which appears to lack any effort or inspiration beyond just getting a game published. Fake Link walks around the level, smashing bricks Mario style and collecting coins. We've been here before. Aside from the oddly nightmarish cloudscape background, Kossy's game feels like a fan effort to make a 3-D perspective Super Mario Bros. clone. Enemies are bright and cheery while the environments are oddly drab by comparison, largely adhering to a black-and-gray color scheme. Fake Link himself is dressed similarly, and the dim and limited palette makes the game feel more like a warez site in game form, albeit far more playable than Bionic Thumbs' recent effort to do just that. Everything is modeled quite well, but the poor aesthetic choices keep it from looking as sharp and vibrant as Arkedo's Jump! Kossy seems to think bathing the screen in voxel cubes, which most player actions and defeated enemies leave behind, will wow people and keep the game looking interesting visually. At no point do the graphics hinder the gameplay -- even the hidden "invisible" blocks can be spotted easily enough against the hellish backdrop -- but the lack of visual variety for most of the game keep things dragging more than it should.
Kossy may not know how to color, but the pacing and level design are interesting and make the game worth playing. A Voxel Action is one giant level, taking about an hour and a half to complete. Along the way, Dark Link will encounter treasure chests: blue ones can be smashed for their booty (coins or 1-ups), but the gold ones house special skills which are required to overcome some obstacle to advance through the rest of the game. There are seven skills which can be earned, including advanced block manipulating moves, wall grabbing, and even Gears of War style regenerating hit points. The skills are explained via Engrish descriptions in the options screen ("destructible blocks at the foot" and "can 2 jump in jump") along with settings to change the camera view (pick "classic" for sanity's sake) and the option to resume from a check point. There are bonus items to be found as well, such as jet packs which will let you fly for a limited time and rainbows which grant brief invincibility. A Voxel Action feels like a collage of just about every idea which has been in a platform game, and while that doesn't say much in the way of originality, there's a certain ingenuity expressed in fitting all of these concepts together into a singular platform level.
Despite the huge world, the nature of the obstacles and using the skills as roadblocks keep a Voxel Action feeling fairly linear. There are times when you'll see unreachable paths or bonuses, but those aren't mandatory to completion. Overcoming one challenge begets another, and then another, so on and so forth until Kossy's Link reaches the "end." A silver chest and misspelled coin message mark the game's end, but A Voxel Action isn't over yet. You are free to continue exploring using your full set of skills, which can be neat but also leave the game feeling rather unfinished. The nature of some challenges can make it difficult to retrace your steps, and backtracking tends to put Warez Link at risk of plummeting to his doom. The game lacks a map or any sort of visual feedback to keep your bearings, and without the obstacles to guide as they did on the trip there, it's easy to get lost heading back. It's also difficult to understand what the end game is here, if any exist. A Voxel Action keeps track of coins gathered and tags, but no where in the game does Kossy explain what the overall goal is that you're to accomplish. That's fine for an 80 point game which still manages to entertain over the course of a couple or so hours, but it still leaves you feeling a bit unfulfilled.
Kossy notes in the game's credits that a second Voxel series game is coming soon. A Voxel Action has enough going for it to make me interested in seeing what he has in store, but I hope there is more of an effort to deliver a more complete experience. The game is worth playing, but the complete lack of music throughout the game and some sloppy level design (the overlapping platforms, the extremely strict dashing leaps later on, terrible wall jumping, and pretty much anything to do with swimming...) do hold it back along with its questionable presentation. A Voxel Action feels like a test for Kossy's voxel technique, incomplete and thrown together to see if it can result in a playable game. Tight control, nice length, and mostly competent if uninspired level design put a Voxel Action better than just playable, but it clearly needs more attention on what kind of experience it wants to deliver if it wants to advance beyond its current level editor look and feel.