Developer: Toxic Games
Publisher: Toxic Games
Platform: PS3, PS4, XB1, WiiU (latest releases)
Released: July 2015
Q.U.B.E. stands for: Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion
Let’s address the elephant in the room first: Q.U.B.E looks like Portal, plays like Portal, and if we’re all being honest, it was likely inspired by Portal. But make no mistake about it, Q.U.B.E aims to be a whole different beast. If Portal is the comedy of puzzlers, Q.U.B.E seems to be the dramatic equivalent.
Q.U.B.E’s puzzles involve manipulating different coloured blocks to either traverse the environment or move objects from A to B. Red blocks can form towers of up to 3, 3 yellow blocks can form staircases and blue blocks can launch you across the map. Though simple at first, the game is constantly throwing new concepts at you, yet Q.U.B.E a fantastic job of easing them into the puzzles.
For instance, the introduction of magnets, which can attract certain blocks towards them when activated, is done through relatively easy platforming sections. Before long though, you’re tasked with some obtuse A to B scenarios that really tax your brain. It’s classic gameplay logic: introduce a new mechanic, spend the next level teaching it, so that all the knowledge can come together for the final test.
Being drip fed these new elements helps to keep the game varied over the 2-3 hour run time. Some might say that’s too short for a game, but the original Portal was about the same length. For a narrative based puzzle game, I think that’s perfect, and there’s also an additional challenge which remixes gameplay elements for even more fun.
And yes, I did say narrative. An amnesiac, you wake up inside a structure made up of cubes (spot the theme), being told by a woman claiming to be an astronaut that your mission is to destroy this structure from the inside before it obliterates Earth. To do this, you… solve physics puzzles? Without wishing to spoil the later sections, your suspicions are quickly raised, and you begin to wonder if the woman on the other end of the radio is who she says she is.
Throughout all this, your character remains silent; a brilliant choice by the creators that allows you to think independently about the situation, instead of being told what to think by a constant internal monologue.
If there was any criticisms about Q.U.B.E, it would be that one or two of the later and hidden puzzles were only solved by sheer dumb luck rather than through an understanding of the mechanics at play. The ‘Hardest Puzzle in the Game’ only met its match once a cube inexplicably flew across the map thanks to the physics engine throwing a wobbler. I was glad to have finished the puzzle, but I still felt robbed of any true satisfaction of achieving the correct solution.
But that’s just a minor hiccup in an otherwise fantastic puzzler. Those seeking an interesting brain teaser, you’ll be happy here. And it’s got easy achievements, if you like that kind of thing. Here’s hoping for a Q.U.B.E Cubed… Please don’t call it that.