With the abundance of puzzle games coming to the Xbox One, developers now have to try and make sure that their game stands out from the rest. Having already staked a claim on Steam, Q.U.B.E has now made its way onto consoles in the form of a Director’s Cut. This is an improved version of the original game, that console owners never got to see, which still keeps the same basic puzzling principle. So, has Q.U.B.E (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion) established itself as a solid Xbox puzzler, or is it going to get lost amongst the pile of others?
Q.U.B.E throws you right in at the deep end, straight into the game as your character wakes up in an unknown location with no idea what they are doing there. Eventually you are told that you are an astronaut, sent on a mission to an object that is hurtling towards earth and you have to destroy it from the inside. In order to achieve this, your character must make their way through a series of puzzles set out across multiple chamber type levels within the giant cube. The puzzles themselves work through a special pair of gloves within your characters suit, allowing you to control various multi coloured blocks scattered across the levels.
These blocks come in a multitude of different colours, and each different coloured block has a different ability you can control. While some are fairly simple, such as the red blocks which simply can be moved up to three blocks high and back down again, the more complicated blocks are introduced as you go through the story, such as the purple arrows which allow you to spin various parts of the levels around.
These different coloured blocks must be used to help you get through the levels in the game, and it starts off as easy as raising a red block, but as you progress the puzzles get harder, and you must use the blocks in harmony with one another in order to get past. To add another twist with the puzzles, magnets, balls and tilting each become an important aspect later on in the game, and you really need to think outside the box and be able to plan ahead and predict movements in order to complete the puzzle in front of you.
The actual game itself is fairly short, with 7 sections each consisting of a few rooms of puzzles. On your journey through these sections though, you’ll be wanting to keep your eyes peeled for the entrances to the secret puzzles. Sometimes these are particularly well hidden; other times you might just stumble across them or see them coming a mile off. Either way, once inside there will most likely be a hidden puzzle in there for you to solve too, and these are often in a different style to the main puzzles, whilst still using the coloured blocks.
For example, the first hidden puzzle in section 4 sees you having to create a 9 block coloured square, copying one that is presented in front of you. To do this, you must spin, raise and rotate a group of coloured blocks behind a pane of glass. These hidden puzzles add a nice change of pace from simply trying to get out of a room, but may require a little more thought to solve them, especially if puzzle games aren’t your natural home.
Even though the game is short, there is still an intriguing and interesting story happening in between your puzzle solving. At the beginning, you are told the story of you being sent to the cube in order to stop it hitting earth. Later on in the story, you are continually fed with feelings of doubt that this is not the case, and a constant conflict is happening around you with the other two main characters who make a vocal appearance in the game. The narrative does well to break up the endless puzzling, and really makes you wonder who is telling the truth, and what is really happening in the game. It also encourages you to play right through to end, which doesn’t take very long at all, with the need for your questions to be answered and story to be concluded.
There’s a simple look and feel about the game, with lots of plain white blocks and sharp edges. It has a very scientific feel to it, and this fits in with the physics type puzzles in the game. The environment within the game has a basic setting to it as well, and you won’t be seeing much of a change of scenery throughout this experience. Due to the nature of the game’s story though, a setting change isn’t needed and the constant whitened blocks make you want to get out as much as your character does. For a slight change of pace, the game also offers an “against the qlock” mode, which sees you racing to finish a level, solving the puzzles on the way, in order to receive medals based on your time. Whilst this mode may not be to everyone’s taste, it is nice there is something the game has to offer you once the short story is finished.
Overall, Q.U.B.E is a unique puzzler, which fans of previous puzzlers such as Portal will no doubt enjoy. The mystery surrounding the happenings within the game will draw you in, and the puzzles themselves will keep you there as you try and solve them all. The hidden puzzles stop you from simply just going through the motions from room to room, and bringing in new coloured blocks and new ways to solve the puzzles keeps the game interesting the whole way through. Like many puzzling games, Q.U.B.E is over all too soon, but the time you will spend with it will keep you guessing, and you will feel satisfied with your puzzle solving abilities by the time you reach the end.