Q.U.B.E. Review

Q.U.B.E. may have some wonderfully clever puzzles, but without any sort of personality, it ends up feeling as boring as its whitewashed walls.

Q.U.B.E. is a game about problem solving and navigation. While not exactly fair, it's impossible to look at it and not draw a comparison to Valve's first-person puzzler Portal. Both have very clean environments; both are focused on logic and problem solving. However, Portal succeeds in building an engaging and humorous world, whereas Q.U.B.E. feels like the video game equivalent of doing homework. It is a game completely devoid of personality, and as sterile as its bleach-white walls. The fundamental puzzle design may be solid, but without context, you're left with little reason to see it through to completion.

Q.U.B.E. is mysterious. It opens with your character waking up on an elevator descending into a facility. As the player, you don't know where you are, who you are, or what's happening. What you do know is that you're wearing an interesting pair of gloves. Tipped with penlights, the gloves are your sole tool for manipulating objects in the environment. You can use them on a red block to cause it to rise out of the ground or step on a blue block to be propelled into the air.

You are introduced to these objects individually so that you can learn their properties. The game does an excellent job of teaching you its mechanics step by step before turning you loose on a fully realized challenge. Early on, your tasks just have you manipulating blocks so that you can reach higher platforms and move to the next area. Then, the game throws all of these elements together, and it's up to you to puzzle out the solution.

Because Q.U.B.E. introduces its mechanics so effectively, you won't find yourself struggling to understand the principles that govern the puzzles. It's always a matter of logic. The challenge feels smooth and natural, but the game changes things on you periodically so that you don't get too comfortable. Just when you get used to one type of puzzle, you're introduced to another. You may find yourself suddenly needing to guide a ball through a maze or navigate a dark room where you can only see the colored blocks. New blocks and other elements are introduced throughout to keep the challenges interesting.

Once you start playing with lasers and magnets, things get a little tricky.

The entire game is logical and well executed in what it sets out to do; however, it feels as if it were designed by a machine. Q.U.B.E. lacks any sort of personality or intrigue that would engage you and get you invested in the game's world. There is no real reason to progress through its world other than a personal curiosity to see the next challenge. No score is kept, time isn't logged, and there are no leaderboards here. From start to finish, your existence is a silent mystery; never addressed and never explored.

Without a defined context for the action, the game suffers in its presentation. Take the music; should it communicate fear, isolation, curiosity, or something else? It should add to the mood in some way but a mood is never defined, so what you get is a sort of light trance that falls into the background and doesn't add anything to the experience. Throughout it, you're starved for some sort of interaction, but none is ever delivered.

Some puzzles involve moving yourself; others are about moving objects.

Q.U.B.E. has a lot of great ideas that are realized in an excellent series of puzzles. These are carefully explained without feeling stifling, and there's always a new challenge waiting around the corner. However, without any competitive element, story, or context for you actions, there is little motivation to advance past your own curiosity. The puzzles are sound, but that's only a fraction of what makes a game enjoyable.

The Good
Clever puzzle design
Lots of puzzle variation
Smooth difficulty curve.
The Bad
Game lacks any story, character, or context.
6.5
Fair
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30 comments
quakke
quakke

I think there is something seriously wrong, in the present time videogame industry.
INDIE PUZZLE game (those two words should say something already). Game that most likely did not have millions of dollars budget funding, since it's INDIE development.
Now you bash a perfectly made indie puzzle game for not having story? Gameplay is actually very fluid, and puzzles sometimes really make you think. Sound and graphics are also really good. I see no complaint here.

Call of Duty. Thats a franchise, that does have millions of dollars budget funding. Yet only only poor story and worst gameplay ever. Yet again, it get's everytime 9/10 review score? It's like you people don't even want there to be any kind of other games, except dumbed down brainless mainstream games. You do not deserve to review videogames, since you have ovbiously been raised by CoD.

K5Stalker
K5Stalker

I personally find the lack of story to be a plus, not a single word is spoken throughout and there is no text whatsoever. The atmosphere is spot on and it really adds to the immersion to be completely isolated from the world, trapped in a world you have to discover by yourself, all alone.

 

It's like becoming a kid again, discovering things without a language, it's the equivalent of instrumental music to gaming. Plus the aesthetic is absolutely fabulous, and the ending, simply breath taking. 

SweetestWay2Die
SweetestWay2Die

ok so let's see... limbo, another indie title, got a 8 (or 9?) rating and was generally praised by the critics. Did it have a coherent story? no. so why are people giving this game a low score for the lack of story? not that it matters though, a good game is a good game and this is one of the better games recently.

zadeh4
zadeh4

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

CrysisFPS
CrysisFPS

Storylines are always a good thing, but can sometimes serve as a bit of a distraction to the game's actual "gaming" qualities. All I wanted was a Puzzle game that required the usual puzzle-solving and logical thinking, not another cliche plotline which could easily fit into a comic or novel. Maxwell's points are fair, but he really lets one Con drag it down to such a low rating. I doubt he really did give much care of the fact that this is a very "Indie" game (and most of you should too), and what quality is there is already mightily impressive on its own.

NeilCardiff
NeilCardiff

Why does everything need a story, this is a puzzle game. I never hear people whining about the lack of story with their crossword or Sudoku puzzle in the newspaper. @Alex7-5 They probably couldn't afford Gamespots fees, 9/10 reviews don't come cheap and Gamespot need an excuse other than they didn't pay up to score the game down.

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

I've come here right after playing the demo for this game and can't help but sympathize with Maxwell McGee' view on it. Those commenters who are whining about 'lack of story' in 'The Bad' section, please read the whole text; it's not just about asking for a story, but about any kind of motivation at all. @bikskit nailed it - comparing this to Tetris and any other 'regular' puzzle game is very bizarre. While they're all labeled 'puzzle games', games like Portal, Catherine and this operate in a very different perspective (both literally and figuratively), and the way Q.U.B.E. is structured, one can't help but feel there is something missing in its world. It is too deliberate a game to be just this, a series of interconnected challenge rooms. While I'd probably give it a better score just for its cleverness, scores don't really matter - what matters is that the reviewer had a point. And no, not 'everyone wants a story these days'. It's pretty much the opposite - we never got so many games devoid of story since the NES era. From innocuous single player campaigns on FPS to sandbox-y stuff such as Terraria and Minecraft, from AAA action titles to indies games with 'cool' names such as 'I made a game with zombies in it!' and 'Space pirate ninja whatever action', there is a LOT of stuff with no form of narrative whatsoever. So please, quit whining. Deep down you know Q.U.B.E. asks for at least some context, and it doesn't even need to appear in a traditional narrative form.

lynx655
lynx655

I get the lack of competitiveness (Except maybe for being able to complete the game or not.), but the rest is bullsh*t. It also goes against the so-called philosophy stated under the rating system, especially "We Consider Games On Their Own Merits".

benbrooky13
benbrooky13

Let's review a puzzle game. Oh look, all the pros say that it is a good puzzle game. Let's look at the cons. Oh, no story, oh well, it's a freaking puzzle game! Why is a story so important? I know these are different, but Tetris and Bejeweled don't have stories, I guess they must not be good. A lot of people could argue that the Portal series is only comprised of decent puzzle games that get a lot of attention for the narrative, just because a story in a puzzle game is somewhat unique. I didn't realize that story is now a genre standard for a gameplay-focused genre. I honestly found Portal 2 to be completely underwhelming in both gameplay and story, yet that game got universal praise because it was from Valve and everybody loved the first game.

baal46
baal46

What? Oh, its Maxwell McGee. That explains why this review is so dumb.

nyran125
nyran125

you could say the same thing about portal to be honest. Get rid of Steven Merchant and youd probably get a decreased score. So i think its a little unfair to say a game is crap because it doesnt have a story. Not every game needs one. I like how Left 4 dead theres no cheesy lame story and its the situation itself that makes its own story. The emotions of a story come with what choice you make in Left 4 dead and how close you were to dying before getting to the safe room. Thats all the story it needed to build an emotional drive.

mortis1982
mortis1982

Well the reason the game got a bad review is because it was reviewed using only AMD products.... :D

UdderJuice
UdderJuice

Mr. McGee obviously does not understand or appreciate existentialism and must require Hollywood-style production values to be entertained. The minimalist approach to this game is what makes it great. This is a wonderful indie game that will most likely go overlooked by the masses. Its on sale now on Steam.

limbomaster
limbomaster

NOT a 6.5 NOT. this game may look and feel a bit sterile, but its a joy to cpmplete those puzzles. a give it a 7, at least, because you get a lot to play. there is no need for story in this game.

darkfury23
darkfury23

well it's really a cheap shot to give it a low rating simply because the reviewer enjoyed portal 2 so much and this one didn't have the storyline that that one had. Some people maybe thought portal 2 was kind of annoying with its story line as I would have enjoyed more focusing on harder puzzles and less gibberjabber

Daian
Daian

Yeah, not every game can be Portal and backup puzzles with story and characters, just appreciate the game for what it wants to be not blame it for something you want it to be but isn't.

Alex7-5
Alex7-5

What the hell? Did I seriously just read a review that took points off a PUZZLE game for not having a story? It's a goddamn puzzle game since when do you knock points off for it not having a story?!?!

Codester_41
Codester_41

I think this game looks pretty cool. It does somewhat get compared to portal. I'll for sure check it out IF it comes out on PSN later on.

FlamingFury
FlamingFury

Seems like a good review. The puzzles look a bit boring to me, but maybe I'll pick it up at a later date when it's on uber special. Shame about the lack of a story. Decent stories in indie games always keep me interested, like Sequence recently.

Voice_of_Wisdom
Voice_of_Wisdom

why everybody nowadays think that a game need a story to be good?

bikskit
bikskit

@Originalyeti82 -- yea I agree; i've been playing it sporadically for about two weeks, nothing amazing or immersive, but clever enough puzzles, so I like it. I think the reviewer raises the point about lack of story, simply because the game seems to hint at a story through the use of fade-ins showing the player's hands, shifting wall mechanics and other non-puzzle actions. Definitely a fair criticism.

Originalyeti82
Originalyeti82

So....it's portal....without the story? Hell, I see no reason to not play it. Not all puzzle games like this need a story. if they tried, everyone would have simply written it as a portal knockoff. which from what is said, doesn't seem like it.

bikskit
bikskit

@Oilers99 "This is why Tetris is a bad game; the story is simply inadequate." Huge problem with your analogy -- the main character's pov. In Tetris, a 2D game (not even a side-scroller), you simply manipulate shapes from a static, undefined pov. In Q.U.B.E., you see the world in first person and manipulate objects in real-time with YOUR visible hands, i.e., YOU are injected into the game as a CHARACTER, and what do characters DO? They tell a story. So Oilers99, you're comparing apples to oranges.

AltoShadow13
AltoShadow13

its an interesting game but without some kind of purpose its appeal is limited at best. It's also way to empty, to the point where you do want someone to just start talking about something, I'm pretty sure someone may like this; just not a lot of people may be drawn to the idea.

Nicksonman
Nicksonman

Interesting review. I never absorb the story or context in these types of games, so I think I'd enjoy this.

Oilers99
Oilers99

This is why Tetris is a bad game; the story is simply inadequate.

19Gam3NErD91
19Gam3NErD91

it looks interesting and the visuals have a nice clean feel to them ,i don't think that a puzzle game necessarily needs a story or context like portal,many puzzle games are actually just a collection of puzzles or minigames

K5Stalker
K5Stalker

Also, the game has to be completed in one sitting for full effect.

Oilers99
Oilers99

 @bikskit  @Oilers99 Well, it took me five months to contemplate my reply, but here it is:Are you serious?You are suggesting that the presence of hands, IE, a human body part, necessitates a story. Well, how about all the abstract games from the NES era that had humanoid characters, full body representations, and no story to speak of? Sure, the manual sometimes had something, but that was something you literally never had to touch in order to play through a game. So it's not like having no storytelling content is unprecedented in quality games.But consider this problem from another angle. Try to come up with a compelling story primarily about moving coloured cubes from one place to another. Go ahead, have it rival Hamlet, or Lord of the Rings.My argument would be that for gameplay as abstract as it, the story would either have to integrated with the gameplay and therefore banal, or abstracted away from the gameplay to include little things like themes and characters and plot, and therefore irrelevant to the gameplay.The most important thing a game can do is make good use of your time. I don't think it's fair to criticize a game for what it is not. This review seems to criticize the game for essentially not being Portal, because, well, Portal had a really awesome context. But Portal wasn't a particularly abstract game. This is.Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go write a review for Chess slamming it for not having a better storyline. So much potential for a medieval political thriller there, just wasted...

Q.U.B.E. More Info

  • Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • Wii U
    • Xbox One
    Q.U.B.E. is a first-person, singleplayer game that begins in a sterile, white cubic environment.
    7.3
    Average User RatingOut of 63 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Q.U.B.E.
    Developed by:
    Toxic Games
    Published by:
    Toxic Games
    Genres:
    Puzzle
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms