games / Reviews

Q.U.B.E. (PC) Review

January 28, 2012 | Posted by Adam Larck

Title: Q.U.B.E. (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion)
Publisher: Indie Fund
Developer: Toxic Games
Genre: Puzzle
Players: 1
Rated: E for Everyone

If nothing else, Q.U.B.E. (Quick Understand of Block Extrusion) is unique just for how it was released.

The game is the first to be released through funding from the Indie Fund. The fund, set up by Indie developers to help other developers out, has already paid off, as Q.U.B.E. has already made back its funding after four days of the games release. However, for the ones that haven’t bought a copy of the game on Steam yet, should you?

I may as well start the review off by saying this: the game will remind you A LOT of Portal. The game has that clean, white aesthetic early on, which transforms into behind-the-scenes chaos later on. Plus, like Portal, Q.U.B.E. is also a first-person puzzle. Instead of using a gun, though, all the action is done through your hands.

That’s right, there isn’t a portal in the game. Instead, your hands controlled special colored cubes. Your left hand activates the cubes, while the right deactivates it. Different cubes have different abilities as well. Red cubes can move up or down three blocks, blue blocks are springs, yellow blocks raise differently depending on which of the three blocks you click on, etc.

The game never really explains the cubes, but does a good job of pacing early on. You quickly experiment with new cubes on easier puzzles earlier on in levels before moving to harder puzzles. After you feel like you’ve mastered a cube, a new cube is added fairly regularly to keep things fresh.

Also, the deeper you get into the game, the more you see cubes that you can’t really affect. Take the green cube for instance, that only moves downhill or by being pushed by other cubes. You also will eventually run into magnet wall panels, which can push certain other blocks around.

Unfortunately, the magnet blocks are one of my biggest problems with the game. Later on, most of the puzzles with magnets seem to be based more on luck than anything else. Blocks can be lined up almost perfect, but then it turns into just tapping the magnet as fast as you can to try and get them to move over an inch or two. It just seems that the magnet puzzles could have been better done, or perhaps just done differently.

On the other hand, one of my favorite parts of the game are used for a very short time. For a short portion of the game, the lights go out except for the glow of the blocks. In addition, the blocks can be changed to whatever color you need. This was one of the best parts of the game, and could have been utilized a lot better than the magnets in my opinion.

However, for all the game does on puzzles, it also lacks a good amount elsewhere. For starters, there really is no story in the game. You spawn into the game with no real motive except just solving puzzles. Even after a twist later in the game that looks like it could go somewhere, the story never does take off, leaving you wondering why the twist happened at all.

I understand being an Indie game, but even a simplistic voice or backstory could have been a huge step forward for this game for drawing the player in. Portal by itself was good, but it was GLaDOS that gave it a big boost. Something similar, even if it was a generic voice pushing you forward, would have added leaps and bounds to the story.

Another problem is the length. Sure, given the length of Portal, this shouldn’t be a huge problem. However, it almost feels like the last half of Portal is about 75 percent of the length of Q.U.B.E..

In addition to this, there really is no reason to come back through and play it. The story doesn’t draw you back to keep seeing it again and again, and the puzzles never change or feel up to interpretation like the Portal gun did.

This isn’t to say that Q.U.B.E. is a bad game. Being developed by an Indie team, the team set out to just make a unique puzzler, pure and simple. They did that, they just trimmed off anything that could be considered extra in the process.

One thing that wasn’t skimped on was the graphics. The graphics are very reminiscent of Portal, as I stated earlier, and look just as nice on the Unreal Engine. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much to report on for sound, except for a few sound effects for blocks moving.

Pros

  • Puzzles give a good learning curve before harder challenges.
  • Gameplay never gets stale before the end.
  • Graphics are crisp for an Indie game.

    Cons

  • Really is no story in the game to follow.
  • Magnet puzzles seem more luck based then skill.
  • Once you beat it, there’s no reason to go back.

    The 411:

    While short, Q.U.B.E. offers a different take on the first-person puzzle game. The cube elements are fun and used great, even if it suffers slightly at the end. Even without a story and being a short game, the $15 price point is good for any fans of Portal to check the game out.

  • Graphics8.0The game uses the Unreal Engine, making the graphics close to par with Portal. 
    Gameplay7.0The cube mechanic is good and works well. The game shows both good and bad elements, though, offsetting each other. 
    Sound5.0Besides some cube sliding noises, there really isn’t much to report here. 
    Lasting Appeal4.0The game is short itself, and there really isn’t a reason to come back to it. 
    Fun Factor 7.5I enjoyed the game for the most part. A few of the magnet parts became annoying, but don’t let that hinder the overall game. 
    Overall6.3   [ Average ]  legend

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    Adam Larck
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