By – Mike Andre
Q.U.B.E is a first-person puzzle game made by Toxic Games, initially as a student project back in 2009, before they were established as a company. One particularly curious thing about all this is that only 3 people worked on it, and they were all game designers, not a single programmer was needed to make the game. Obviously, they did not need one either.
Cubes And More Cubes
Q.U.B.E is a puzzle game and as such, you don’t carry around guns and shoot stuff. What you do here is press buttons, extrude and intrude cubes and more high tech stuff like that in order to progress to the next phase. You’ll come across all sorts of puzzles. The good news is, most of them are challenging and satisfying. The bad news are, I hope you like solving puzzles because if you don’t, you’ll probably want to play something else as that’s all you do in Q.U.B.E.
The whole vibe of the game is rather Portal-esque, which coincidentally or not, is another first person puzzle game. The look is very minimalistic, probably because the team didn’t have proper modelers and were forced into doing something simple and attractive at the same time. Personally I think they succeeded, despite the look starting to get a bit tiring after a while, it feels rather fresh and is coherent with the premise of the game, namely messing with cubes.
The game makes good use of a couple of simple mechanics to create some pretty clever puzzles, some harder than others but most of them interesting enough to keep you going.
The difficulty curve is rather steep though. While the first quarter is a walk in the park, the rest of the game is surprisingly challenging so don’t be surprised if you lose 20 minutes or so on a single puzzle. Solving them is usually satisfying, but getting stuck can also be pretty frustrating. Thankfully the game keeps on throwing you new mechanics every 5 or so puzzles. Not only this is a great way to keep the gameplay from getting repetitive, it also works as a motivating factor as you are always curious to know what’s next.
Occasionally, you are faced with some cutscenes of sorts, though nothing exactly memorable. One time some sort of robot came from nowhere, for no apparent reason, and blew up a wall so I could progress. I still have no idea what happened and why.
Which brings me to one of my biggest complaints about the game: the lack of context and story. All you know is you are some dude, who can activate specific triggers remotely with your gloves, in some strange facility made of cubes and…that’s about it.
What Just Happened?
While in this sort of game a complex story isn’t needed, some background on how and why you got here and what’s your objective exactly would be nice, not to say necessary. That also affects the music. It’s nice and all, but sometimes you don’t know exactly what emotions you are supposed to feel because, then again, there’s no context for anything.
For instance there’s one specific level where you are in a barely lit corridor and a rather spooky music starts to play. You know you are supposed to feel tense but why exactly? Personally what I felt was curiosity, desire to know what was going to happen next, while the desired effect was probably the opposite, namely being afraid of whatever was causing the music to change.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
If you like cleverly designed and challenging puzzles, you’ll almost certainly enjoy Q.U.B.E. and the asking price of $14.99 is just fine. If you are looking for a something a bit more action oriented then you should look elsewhere. Thankfully, there is a demo available so the consumer can make a more informed purchase decision.
Q.U.B.E. Technical Summary:
- Time Played – 5 hours
- Widescreen – Yes
- 5.1 Audio – Yes
- Bugs – None
- Control Scheme – M/K or Gamepad
- Availability – Desura, Steam, Gamersgate
- Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
- DRM – Steamworks
- Demo – Yes
- Review Specs – Core 2 Duo, Radeon 4550, 4GB RAM
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