Blokk!, from Erwin Bosman and Kim-Erik & Carmen Chanel Frisholm calls on us all to channel our inner architect and take on their spatial puzzle(s). Blokk! is an abstract game with a concrete aim: build a block! And there you have the English translation of the Norwegian title!
Blokk! takes the established game mechanic of polynomial (think Tetris shapes) tile laying and adds an additional dimension by… well, adding an additional dimension! Tiles have become polycubes, and flat shapes are now rendered across the x, y and z-axis into 36 unique shapes. Using these colourful polycubes, your aim is to build a (near) perfect cube - that is to say, a cube with as few holes or sticky-outy bits as possible.
The rules allow for competitive (Blokk! Off), collaborative (Blokk! Party) and solo play (just plain Blokk!) at different levels of difficulty (4x4, or 5x5 size), and using differing prompts – free choice of pieces, die rolling to dictate a colour, or card drafting to stipulate a specific piece. This gives the gamer 12 modes of problem solving, tho' competitive play can feel a bit lacking because your play has very little effect on your competitor until the final piece placements, and the temptation is great to interject with comments and ideas, essentially translating it back to a collaborative mode – which is fine; Collaborative is a far superior experience here.
In addition to the main game, Blokk! includes a ‘legacy’ mode! Hidden in bags, behind large pieces of protective foam are three mysterious Golden Blokks. These polycubes are delightfully random shapes of increasing size and complexity which can be unlocked only after completing up to 20+ specific trials. These pieces are wonderful! A true treat for the spatial champion, further extending the longevity of the main game. A score pad for logging and checking progress on the challenges is also included.
Board's Eye View's preview copy of Blokk! was a 3D-printed prototype so I cannot speak with certainty about component quality, but the size and general design was spot-on for this tactile puzzle and I have high confidence about the final product. The design of Blokk! is absolutely spot on: the colours are vivid and inviting, the cards are eye-catching and clear, and the whole game is set to a midnight-blue background which gives a real sense of intelligence to the playful pieces.
The box is big enough to house all the pieces jumbled up but if you like things neat, then packing is an entire new challenge in itself - even more Blokk! for your buck! We actually opted for the total opposite in our house and never packed it away at all. Like many brain puzzlers, this is something you’ll want to fiddle with, poke, test, then leave to come back to later. Further to that our young children were captivated by the colourful asymmetric shapes and were very happy to explore and create with them – they have a permanent place on our shelf now.
Blokk! is essentially a gamified puzzle - both game and puzzle - and where the design team have put enough ideas in to get the best of both worlds. Think of it as a Christmas-cracker game on steroids – and much like those enjoyable festive distractions, it draws your attention in with a focused desire to tune-out the world and spend hours puzzling, deliberating, and solving some satisfying 3D geometry.
Blokk! is coming to Kickstarter on 12 October. Click here to find out more.
(Review by Michael Harrowing)