If you love the Portal series by Valve, then you are going to enjoy Q.U.B.E, an Indie game written and published by Toxic Games. Set in a mysterious and abstract sterile environment, Q.U.B.E (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion) is a first-person puzzle game that challenges players to navigate each level by manipulating coloured cubes that surround then. This is a really nice, clean game; one that will keep all the puzzle lovers out there happy. This is a game not to miss, in the first four days of its release on the Steam network, it sold over 12,000 copies, enough to pay back their Indie Funds Investment in full.
Q.U.B.E. is a slow-paced 3D action puzzle game. Right from the outset you are faced with waking up from unconsciousness in your strange environment, reminiscent of Portal, as you listen out for the GlaDOS-type voice though, you suddenly realise you are on your own here. You will be happy to hear there is not too much to learn in this game. The controls are simple as you use just the mouse for movement, coupled with the left and right mouse buttons to move blocks around the screen; along with the usual W,A,S,D keys on your trusty keyboard. This makes for a very fast learning curve and before you know it you will be well accustomed to the gameplay and what to do. This is a great change as so many games instantly put you off when you are faced with loads of instructions that make your brain melt.
The graphics are basic but look great, partly due to the developer’s use of the Unreal game engine as their weapon of choice. Very few games I have played that have utilised this engine fail to impress me on the graphics front. After running and jumping up a few stairs and gaps, you are faced with having to use your gloves that you wear (these look like the Power Glove way back from the NES days). They are magic gloves that use telekinesis-like abilities to move blocks in and out to create platforms. Or maybe you need to push a block into the wall to make a trampoline out of it to jump to out of reach spots in the environment.
The further you progress through the levels, the harder the puzzles get. This is where you start to get hooked, just like in the Portal series; you feel you must work out the solution. Although, there is no real feeling of having to progress due to not really having a story at all, which would have been nice. Now, although so many games seem to be rip-offs of other titles, this is not always a bad thing. To give these guys credit, they have done a great job here. Even if they have all been playing Portal. There is no multiplayer implemented in this title, however I can imagine they may implement that in a sequel as it would benefit the game. Being able to play along with a buddy would be great.
Q.U.B.E is not a very long game, however, and only really gives you an hour or so of enjoyment, but for the price you pay its well worth it. You happily pay around £15 to go to the cinema, so why not pay the same for an enjoyable puzzle game. What lets it down, however, is the serious lack of emphasis put into a storyline; it would have benefited more from this and added a far greater appeal for people. I suggest you play the demo first to get an idea of what to expect.
What keeps you going most are the consistent striking visuals which are pretty good. The bad news is Q.U.B.E ain’t Portal, and it attempts to the contrary work against it. I am, however, intrigued as to what Toxic Games will bring us next. I will be keeping a close eye on these guys as they are pretty talented.
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