The lads at Toxic Games were kind enough to give us a review code for QUBE – Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion which I had been looking forward to trying out. Anyway my patience was rewarded and I can now get you this review out just a bare day before it comes out on Steam. For anyone who is interested QUBE comes out on Steam tomorrow (6th january 2011).
QUBE is a first person puzzle game which revolves around interacting with several different coloured blocks in the challenges. You can either “extrude” or “reset” the blocks. For example a red square can be extruded three times, making (after the third extrusion) a three block high pillar and you can then reset it through the various stages. Blue blocks are used to bounce things around, yellows create stairs and purple is used to rotate sections of the rooms you are in.
All in all I’m not describing it very well, but take it from me that the mechanic is extremely simple.
Despite the simple idea behind it there are a surprising range of puzzles involving just these few blocks. The starting puzzles involve using them to get to the next stage and the game progresses through using the blocks to move other blocks, using them to push a ball through various coloured… THINGS and even doing it when you can’t see the blocks at all.
So like I say the amount of TYPES of puzzles is actually really surprising and keeps the game fresh. I do have to say that it’s nice to see a game that takes it’s concept and then applies it in more than one way.
The game looks really nice as well. Starting off on this I would like to say that the game has ONE environment: cuboid room with white, plasticy, square panels. There aren’t really any shadows (in most of the levels) as for the most part it seems like every block/panel gives off light. So really the environments are pretty simple. I can’t really comment as I have never designed any game levels before but I do think that I bet this part of the game didn’t take long.
That said they ARE really rather nice. The game looks really rather good and despite the simplicity of it, I do think the graphics and design of the game is rather excellent and definitely fits the feel of the game (“Stand back I’m going to try SCIENCE!”). The puzzles also all look rather good and the different types of puzzle also look pretty amazing.
The animations are also all smooth and tight and all the music and soft sound effects of the game fit in really well bringing the whole game together. In fact, as a whole, the game works really, really well. It’s great fun and the puzzles always start easy before truly twisting your brain out through your ears.
There are a few problems though. First of all is the absence of any story or plot of any type. This isn’t such a big problem in games, I mean Modern Warfare seems to have done fine without any as well (OHSNAP!). But in this case there is NOTHING at all to go on. I mean you are there to solve puzzles, that’s fine. But why? What’s the motivation? And unfortunately, since nothing is supplied the first thing that my brain latched onto was that you are some unwilling scientific experiment subject trying to escape… And that sounds awfully familiar… Worse: that whole theory is really helped along by the scientific and clinical look of the game. Basically it just feels like the game isn’t as good because the lack of it.
While travelling through the levels as well there are stages where there is rubble strewn about on the ground and, when there is, in a lot of places you can just walk through it. It’s a nit-pick, I know that, but it still seems worth mentioning because it definitely makes the game a little less immersive when you just don’t interact with the environment like that.
These two are things that I would suggest you overlook though as the rest of the game easily makes up for it. In fact the only thing really holding QUBE down is the fact that it has no replay value. At all. As far as I am aware once you’ve solved every puzzle and made it to the end of the game, that’s it. You’re done. Worse, the game is actually fairly short. I believe that there is nine levels in total, in over two hours I had breezed through six of them before getting stuck in the seventh. So it’s unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be all that much to it.
In fact QUBE is definitely a case of quality over quantity.
I’m struggling to think of much more to say about it really, so I’m going to leave it at that. Looks good, is fun, is bloody amazingly intelligent but is also a bit short. I really recommend that when this comes out tomorrow that you all give it a little look in as the game more than deserves it. On that note I should really mention that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s really good. In fact QUBE came awfully close to picking up several big name Indie Awards (they are listed on the top of the QUBE main site). So there you go, this isn’t just the ranting of a madman.
If you need more convincing of how amazing this game is then you can check out this video of me playing it here: