|Genre||Publisher||Release date||Release O.S||Available on|
|Puzzle||Toxic Games||24/07/2015||PSN, Xbox Live, eShop||eShop|
Awoken inside a strange room with no memory and nothing but a weird set of gloves, a series of tests lie ahead. Tests that may or may not allow you to escape, or at the very least explain what is exactly going on.
On first looking at Q.U.B.E. it’s easy to see its inspirations – the clean, white rooms, mysterious protagonist and crafty puzzles more than radiate a hint of the Portal series. Which is not to say that’s necessarily a bad thing, after all there haven’t been too many imitations as of recent, a hardly surprising fact given the genre’s niche nature. However in an industry often dominated by game’s sporting fast cars, guns and loud sports, it’s nice to take a break from it all and immerse yourself in a good brainteaser of a game. Is Q.U.B.E a fine example of a puzzling first person experience done right though?
So what exactly does Q.U.B.E. stand for? Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion (obviously) and this will quickly become apparent as soon as you set foot into your first room. Using a set of high tech gloves you’ll manipulate coloured cubes in order to make use of their unique characteristics. Red blocks for example extend and retract while blue launch you into the air. Things start off relatively simple focusing on one block type at a time, but these situations soon escalate into a gauntlet of different colours all requiring a keen mind and good timing. Before I knew it I would find myself climbing a set of stairs created by a yellow block, before dropping onto a series of blue blocks that would shoot me upward toward a retracted red one. It sounds confusing and on first stepping into a room it can be, but part of Q.U.B.E.’s appeal is breaking down a room and using it to your advantage.
Fortunately the developers have managed to nail the difficulty curve rarely if at all straying into unfair or cruel territory. Each room deliberately steps up the creativity in small but large enough steps that the player feels both reward but also challenge.
The campaign itself is relatively short – playtime totalling anywhere between a couple and four hours, which is disappointing to say the least. Games such as Portal 2 have proven that puzzle focused experiences such as this can sustain a full length adventure so to see the end credits roll so soon is surprising. This edition of Q.U.B.E. however does offer a few extra rooms tucked away each housing their own devilish puzzle. These are a nice addition but nothing too dramatic. Also included is a time trial mode, which again is a pleasant inclusion but one that might feel a little pointless seeing as they offer the same puzzles from the main game.
From a story standpoint, Q.U.B.E. is hardly inspired although its initial mystery is enough to carry you on. Voices offering you “explanations” as to what is happening and why you are here remain vague enough that the unknown itself suddenly becomes more interesting than the actual reality of it all. Who put you here? Why? What is the purpose of all this? Whether these questions are eventually answered I’ll leave for you to discover.
Q.U.B.E. sports a simple, minimalistic art style complete with bright white surroundings. The bold colour choices for cubes themselves help them stand out and work well in grasping your environment as you move from room to room.
Despite its similarities in aesthetics to Valve’s puzzler, Q.U.B.E. very much feels like its own thing with unique brainteasers that will put even the most practiced of gamers to the test. Short on content, but a rewarding experience from start to finish.
- Clever ideas
- Mystery element can be intriguing
- Clean aesthetic
- Too short
- Lacking extras
- Story doesn’t live up to it’s set-up