Neat block puzzles in first person. It's no Portal but you could do worse with your $15

User Rating: 7 | Q.U.B.E. PC
QUBE is a first person indie puzzler from Toxic Games. It is the first game released with the help of Indie Fund. Players wake up in a sterile environment of white rooms formed from blocks. As you move through the world colored blocks appear. Players manipulate these colored blocks to aid themselves or move objects to a destination. Special gloves allow you to activate the blocks from a distance or even bestow neutral blocks with a specific block type. Using the blocks in combination and correct sequence will take up most of your time.

The environment in QUBE is quite bland but it serves to make the colored blocks feel alive in contrast. The white blocks may move in cyclical patterns to produce some hypnotising effects as you walk from one puzzle to the next. Unlike Portal there aren't characters or jokes, the game relies on the puzzles and it only explains where you are at the very end of the game. Your real friends will be the colored blocks.

Different colored blocks react in unique ways when activated. Red blocks extend or retract by one unit. Yellow blocks are linked in threes and can create stairs. Blue blocks provide a pad that objects and players can launch from. The opening areas will relax you into using the blocks in basic ways. Later you'll be using all blocks in specific orders to get things done. Near the end, the world is populated with neutral blocks that you must correctly assign to a specific block type.

You'll be turning entire sections of walls and switching on magnets to move objects. A few puzzles, behind glass floors, ask you to position four magic boxes using the power of magnets. Here you will block the boxes to position each correctly before moving them all in tandem. These types of puzzles are not new; they've been done in 2D before. The 3D implementation is decent but lacks precision. Magnets are slow to activate, so moving one world unit becomes a hassle.

Some of the best puzzles involved a ball rolling down a ramp. The ball acts as a switch once it drops in the right colored pool. Before it drops in the pool, the ball needs to pass through specific colors. Passing through red and blue painters will create a purple ball. Not only do you need to place the blocks in the right position but you need to time your moves. Reflexes are helpful in some puzzles but most are sequence and placement orientated.

It's a little disappointing how many times puzzles broke. In one room, a block was somehow knocked perpendicular to any possible forces. Many rooms have a reset button but not this one. It required a restart from one of the frequent checkpoints. A few times when testing the solution of a room I managed to get stuck within a rotating wall. My favourite was when a neutral block incorrectly reset allowing me to complete the puzzle with little effort.

The core design of QUBE is relatively sound. It just needed more polish and an infusion of creativity. Maybe some longer puzzles directly involving the player would have helped. It uses the Unreal 3 Engine reasonably well but many two dimensional puzzles struggle to find a home in a three dimensional space. The game will probably take 3 or 4 hours to complete depending on your aptitude. The game is enjoyable enough and should hold your attention for the entirety.

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