I have battled my way through some pretty interesting puzzle platformers in my time. None of them were quite like Q.U.B.E: Directors Cut for Xbox One, and that cannot be anymore of a refreshing feeling. Q.U.B.E. made me feel like I was living inside of a Rubik’s cube trying to escape. It’s a completely inviting adventure with a rewarding difficulty. The first person view here gives a fresh spin on traditional platformers, and the solemn, atmospheric vibe brings it home.
Q.U.B.E. starts you waking up after a mysterious incident in an all white, cube filled complex. You are told by a strange voice that you are stranded, and must solve the puzzles laid before you in every room to try and make it to the exit. You find yourself equipped with a pair of unique gloves that can manipulate specific color coded cubes, guiding you through each puzzle. From here, you embark on getting yourself through every sector, and on your way back home.
Q.U.B.E. is divided into 7 different sectors (levels). Each one increasing in difficulty, but never in an unforgiving manner. As you progress through every area, the game actually teaches you more and more. Whether it’s an action that a cube can possess, or something that can change in the environment, Q.U.B.E. always prepares you for what’s ahead. When you finally have the “I got it!” moment and you clear a puzzle, is like a small celebration of your own intelligence.
In terms of graphics, Q.U.B.E. does what it needs to do, and does it well. There will be no crazy particle effects, explosions, or over the top CGI here, but there is never a need. The game’s visuals shine in its simplistic nature. They exhibit a smooth, porcelain-like aesthetic, and allows for a more engaging approach to cracking the cube-ridden challenges. Developer Toxic Games were right on the money with graphical presentation.
Controlling your mysterious character in Q.U.B.E. is never a chore, and you can’t ask for more in a genre where pin point maneuvering is key. Movement with the dual stick setup is responsive, and actually made me want more platformers to go with the first person approach. You have a more in-depth view of your surroundings, and being a huge first person shooter fan, this felt like platformer’s love letter to me. Left trigger gives you the ability to interact with the cubes, while right trigger can allow you to undo certain cube’s actions. One valid complaint though would be that the aiming function is far too slow, and cannot be changed to a higher sensitivity in the options menu. Also, a white colored reticle may have not been the best idea for a game where 90% of the surroundings are white. It was easy to lose track and miss an opportunity to advance the puzzle.
Sound wise Q.U.B.E. delivers competently. The audio translates the solemn atmosphere and gives you the deserted, secluded feel that the developers strived for. A very lightly played accompaniment compliments the sounds of you pulling cubes from the wall. However, the subtle approach made me wish there was a little more going on. Especially when stuck in an area for a bit trying to crack the cubed puzzle ahead, the silence can be deafening. A little more of a fleshed out soundtrack would have been refreshing.
Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut for Xbox One is a cleverly, well paced first person puzzle platformer with an excellent visual aesthetic and solid gameplay. This Director’s Cut contains an all new story and dialogue by the award-winning writer Rob Yescombe, and “Against the Qlock” time trials levels that will test your puzzle-solving skills as well as your speed and adaptability with 10 new levels. Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut is a must play for any fan in the genre.
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