Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut Review

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As the game starts and as the screen clears it becomes pretty clear that you’re sitting in what looks to be a giant padded cell, you’re alone, confused, and without direction. Moments later a disembodied, female voice speaks up, she is on the international space station, hoping to talk you through your mission upon an alien cube. Making your situation seem that much more comforting, this cube you have boarded is on a collision course with earth. Your female companion voice talks through some of your past and briefly explains your one-man army mission to destroy the extra terrestrial cube. Without a moment’s hesitation you embark on your mission, your guide fading in and out of communication as her orbit changes. Soon another voice creeps in from the darkness, a man who believes that the mission is a lie.

Whatever

Rooms featuring puzzles that can be solved using the cubic puzzle pieces populate this giant space-cube that you are riding. Puzzle pieces are colour coded, you have gloves that react to the blocks around you, they are strategically placed to confuse. When these blocks are activated and organised in a set pattern they provide a path to the next room. These puzzles look deceptively simple however they become much more complicated as the game progresses. Using a first person perspective, where you see eerily disembodied hands floating in front of your face, means that in each room you must move to get a visual understanding of the puzzle’s layout. Whilst these puzzles are fairly short, their layout and your limited visual access to the whole puzzle can make them tricky affairs to finish, not to mention that many of the puzzles require many actions working together for the next door to open.

What kind of puzzles are included in Q.U.B.E you must be asking, firstly it should be understood that Q.U.B.E stands for Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion: put simply the game is made up of complex block puzzles. Mostly they involve cube or rectangular shapes that can be manipulated to make stairs or an item that is key to blocking or helping you access something else. As previously mentioned everything is colour coded and each coloured square has a specific action it can perform, some forms can be altered to make a block bigger or change the direction of the room. There are light displays you must organise; sometimes the balls need to be directed through colour changing lights; sometimes the balls need to be directed into specific holes. In terms of puzzle variety, Q.U.B.E has a satisfying range of puzzle challenges to play through.

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What Q.U.BE did wrong mostly has to do with the length of the game, which is not long, there are 6 levels which can be finished in between 10-20 minutes each, perhaps longer depending on how adept you are at extrapolating 3D puzzles. When the game starts your character is thrown in the midst of plot and puzzle, you’re given no other explanation, even something as simple as glove activation or how to manipulate the puzzles are something you must work out for yourself. Lengthy tutorials are often frowned upon because they treat players like children who have never played a video game before, however they can be useful when the game in introducing new actions and concepts. I will concede that this is a minor complaint and after the first 5 minutes of the game the complaint was no longer relevant.

“If you leave a person alone in the dark long enough, they lose themselves.” When the female companion on the I.S.S said this during a monologue, referring to my past and my mission, this struck me as being about the game itself. Granted you’re not quite in the dark but you’re on your own, and the lights don’t stay on forever. Within this game you’re expected to save the planet whilst you’re on an interstellar cube, with no memory and nought but two, strange, conflicting voices speaking to you from the darkness, it’s enough to turn the sanest person mad. Throw in psychedelic visuals and a soundtrack that blurs the lines between ominous and hopeful more and more as the levels progress, Q.U.B.E provides an assault on your visual and auditory sensory while stretching your mental abilities.

Whatever

If you missed the vaguely hidden portal reference earlier you also might have missed the similarities that Q.U.B.E has to the popular franchise Portal, and also shame on you. One of the first things that I noticed about the game (and not just me, the people trudging through my lounge room also) was the similarity in purpose, story and design to Portal. That said the VAGUE similarity in art style, segments of the story, and the fact that both include puzzles requiring heavy, mental extrapolation is where the similarity ends. For a game with a relatively normal number of similarities to other games within the same genre *cough* first person shooters *cough* this seems nit picky and unfair. So despite the lounge traffic announcing to me that I was playing with portal’s baby sister, NO! Shall I repeat this Q.U.B.E is NOT, again NOT a new Portal. Whilst probably not coincidental, this game is unique, stimulating and very challenging.

Despite the short length of the game, and honestly that may not be everyone’s experience, Q.U.B.E was a great game to play through and something that would be worth playing again. Each of the puzzles provided its own mental challenge, which seems to be the point of the game. Overall I had minimal complaints about the game, none of which were detrimental to the gameplay or the story. Q.U.B.E’s story was surprisingly entertaining to which loaned another element of entertainment to the game. Between the different, disembodied voices contradicting each other and the uncertainty of the future, it was more entertaining than anticipated for a small, independent game. Summarising the experience, Q.U.B.E was a great game and well worth investing the time to play.

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About: Sarah Rigg

Mini metalhead with a love of horror movies and video games. First started gaming on her brother’s N64 with Mortal Kombat. Favourite series include Bioshock, Pokémon, Silent Hill and Mortal Kombat.

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