Publisher: Toxic Games
Release Date: Out Now
TheIndieJar: QUBE Review
I don’t need to tell you that it looks like portal so I’ll avoid mentioning it…
Q.U.B.E (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion) is the first game to be released using backing from the Indie Fund. Using the Unreal engine it provides nice graphics and physics. The puzzles see you moving things around a room to unlock the door to the next area, and there is a nice difficulty curve that starts slow then ramps up in the last few stages of the puzzle type that you have been working with.
This difficulty drops off towards the end as shorter and less complex puzzles are put in your way to extend the finale. No story is directly told to you, but there are clues in the wear and tear of the environment that says something happened. This occasionally changes puzzles; one level has you finding your way around in the dark.
The gameplay uses a variety of techniques to give you a hard time; you use your hands to pull or push on blocks so that you can use them as platforms, catapults, stairs or elevators, while other block types can be used on buttons or move the room itself. They combine in scenarios where you have to reach a door ten metres above you, or move a cube around a circuit of cubes below your feet and another where a ball rolls down a slope and you have to direct it into the right hole. Another shorter lived one lets you play around with a beam of light, changing colour and sending it to the right switch.
This range of puzzle types is nice, but a stronger focus on one may have helped to provide more involving challenges. Games like OIO used a simple mechanic and explored the diversity of it within increasingly dangerous environments. QUBE puts you in the same white room each time with a slightly different arrangement of tools. Oh, and when I say white, you may want to turn down the brightness of your screen, my eyes were a bit sore after a while.
The occasions where you had to solve a puzzle below you were annoying. Besides the fact that operating the button to move blocks and seeing the blocks themselves at the same time isn’t easy, putting a barrier between the player and the puzzle seems to be contrary to the point of making the game first person. Also because the physics objects were inaccurate, they can’t always be trusted to do exactly what is required of them.
On occasion you get the feeling that you aren’t solving the puzzles the way the designer intended; one puzzle required placing four blocks on four red pillars simultaneously, however there were two other red blocks there to help placement, which I didn’t use at all. The barrier also made it feel like the developers had some good ideas for 2D or 2.5D but were looking for ways to use their Unreal engine as much as possible.
For me the whole narrative thing just doesn’t work here – there is nothing that immerses you. The vagaries of the environment are independent of you, keeping you guessing fruitlessly at exactly what is going on. While impressive to look at, the final reveal seems inconsequential. There are no hints that what is going on is related to your location or what you just made your way through (I’m not sure why I’m using roundabout language to avoid a spoiler, but I am). I suppose people more pretentious than I will enjoy looking for a deeper meaning to it all.
Disappointingly short but by no means bad. If you really want another line of puzzles to sort through, then by all means buy it. There are parts that will give you a reason to stand there scratching your head and parts you will spend some time wondering if there is only one solution. Few people that buy it won't enjoy it, however it doesn’t quite reach the standard set by Portal... shit.
- Makes good use of the Unreal engine's graphical capacity.
- Teaches you the basics of each puzzle well so you can tackle the next step combines with a bit of your own brain power.
- A reasonable start to the catalogue of Indie Fund funded games.
- Not as long as you'd think it would be at about 4 hours.
- Unsubstantial narrative method.
- The imprecise physics objects either let you solve a problem in a way it isn't meant to be, or in a way that doesn't feel fully intended.
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