While the genre always seems to get old fast for me, there’s nothing like a solid puzzle game to round out the library. There seems to be two main types of puzzle games getting made today. The straight level after level puzzler that lives or dies by gameplay alone because the developers have done nothing to sweeten the experience save for maybe throwing in a couple of tracks of halfway decent music. The other main type is the plot focused puzzle game which usually puts too much effort into plot but doesn’t make the puzzles nearly that fun because the whole project is really just an excuse to tell you the story. The genre is often done in an unbalanced way today, but every so often you find a game that does its best to land somewhere in the middle. Cubikolor by Moving Player SAS is one such game. This game does it for me because it provides the simplicity and lack of necessary commitment that you always get from level by level puzzle games while still providing a decent enough plot to follow which can be ignored if you want to. It gives you both experiences in a single game while staying true to the puzzle genre.
Cubikolor does what it needs to on a visual level. It’s just multiple colors of cubes floating in a blue space with random shapes and lights floating around in the background. It’s got a very smooth texture pallet which I guess is pleasing to the eye overall. The menus have a simple, very clean finish. Basically everything about the game is minimalist except for maybe the two characters. The only thing I didn’t really like about the graphics was the fact that you could see the opaque gridlines at the bottom of the world. I’m not talking about the gridlines in the actual playable area. Those are fine. But for some reason, even though it adds literally nothing to the gameplay, since the levels themselves also have gridlines, the developers decided to leave the gridlines showing at the bottom of the game world. Sometimes they even bisect the levels in later stages. Not a serious issue, but aesthetically I think it hurts the game. Now if say the gridlines somehow helped with playing the game that would be different. Maybe it was left for a level editor that never made it to the release version of the game. The color scheme is a healthy mix of both shiny and darker hues. Overall I was pretty satisfied with the graphics in this game.
The gameplay is quite good. It seems very familiar and yet it isn’t exactly like anything you’ve played before. Certainly there have been similar things in the past though. I confused this game with Cubicolor on Steam when I first heard the name. The overall goal of the game is to progress through each level by reaching the key block or blocks when you get to later levels. You do this by rolling a multicolored cube around levels and interacting with different blocks. Each side of your cube is a different color. When you roll on to a block that is the same color, it raises up one level. When you roll on to a block that is a different color it moves down one level provided it’s not a normal level block, a key block, or a tutorial block. That’s basically the general idea, but as you progress through each 10 level section, new twists are added in. You have the ability to rewind moves when you make a mistake and you can restart the level any time by holding square without dealing with any loading times.
Each stage is scored on a gold, silver, bronze scale. This is based solely on the time it took to complete the level but the game also records number of moves. If you rewind (backtrack) you will automatically be given a white score regardless of your completion time. The game is broken up into 10 level sections, but you can continue from whatever level you left off from when you exit the game. As with all such puzzle games, it starts off fairly easy. But even by the 30th level you will start to really struggle to move forward. The game is fair but it gets quite difficult when having to plan for multiple key blocks among other obstacles. What’s nice about the gameplay is how easy it is to drop in and out of it. You can always come and go as you please for as little or as much time as possible. The game is very responsive but the controls will sometimes not do what you think they should. All you can do is move in one of four directions and you can’t fall off the side. But you will often roll the wrong way because the game is reading the direction differently than you are. To avoid this problem altogether you can toggle off relative controls, which decide direction based on the current camera angle. But then you have to commit to each direction regardless of how you have the camera angled.
The sound is as good as it needs to be for a game like this. You have a few easy listening tracks and a solid set of effects for the very limited amount of occurrences that can actually take place in this game. The only sound option you have is the ability to toggle the music on and off. There’s really nothing else to say about the sound in Cubikolor.
As I stated before, this simple block rolling game has a story. The game takes place in the world of a computer. You are a program with the express goal of getting as far as you can. You are told this by a much more powerful program that is tasked with watching you progress. Every 10 levels this super program will tell you a little something in a cutscene. This isn’t some award-winning story by any means. But it was nice to at least have some semblance of a plot in a puzzle game that also delivered on the quality of the puzzles. I haven’t reached the end yet, but I genuinely want to see where the plot goes by the end of the game.
Cubikolor has at least 150 levels and 21 trophies. But to say that it has replay value seems odd. There are some puzzles that can be beaten multiple ways, in fewer moves, and with faster completion times. But once you beat a puzzle there’s little reason to beat it again unless it’s with the intention of improving your score or getting a trophy. The game is £6.50 / $8 which always seems high for a level to level puzzle game. It may take you eight hours or more to beat if you get stuck a lot but honestly there’s not actually eight hours of original content so I say pay at most £3.50 / $5 for it.
Cubikolor was exactly what I wanted it to be when I started it. I’m happy with the gameplay, sound, graphics, and writing. It’s a solid buy for puzzle game enthusiasts. The price is a bit high but otherwise it came out quite well.
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