The first-person puzzle game is a relatively modern sub-genre that lives and dies by the new ideas it brings to the table. Portal had its portals, the upcoming Magnetic: Cage Closed has its magnets and Q.U.B.E. The Directors Cut has…Magic gloves that let you manipulate blocks in the environment. It’s an interesting, if slightly odd idea that makes way for a lot of different possibilities.
This director’s cut, which is an expansion of the original Q.U.B.E. (which itself was an expansion of the student project version of the same name), adds in story elements that tie everything together. While the story is cool in that meta “is this voice really helping me or trying to kill me” way, it’s the gameplay that’s most important.
Here’s what I liked:
Yes! I did it! — Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut‘s puzzles range from super easy but still satisfying to solve to rage-quit levels of difficulty. I admit that I did have to check YouTube for solutions a couple of times — and wouldn’t you know it, the solution was right under my nose in those cases. Regardless, almost all of the levels were fun to figure out and gave me a real feeling of “I’m a genius!” when I finally finished a hard one.
Just complicated enough — As you progress through the game’s sectors, you encounter new kinds of blocks that can be interacted with in different ways. You only have two buttons with which to interact with things (essentially a telekinetic push forward and push back), but they have different effects based on different block colors and shapes. At various stages of the game you may be simply pushing blocks around, where sometimes you might be making stairs appear, activating switches that affect gravity or even timing the movements so the blocks push rolling balls. The thing is, it never gets too complicated. The progression is such that you don’t find yourself forgetting what certain kinds of blocks do, and that is important for a puzzle game.
Very cool design — The cube/grid like look of this world is unique and cool. It may seem overly simplistic at first, but that simpleness makes way for some pretty trippy, cool levels. I even saved a screen capture to use as my new Xbox wallpaper (the one in the header image of this review). There are elements other than the simple grid such as broken wires, blown-out walls and glass that also add to this minimalist, beautiful world. I’d also love to see this game in VR using an Oculus Rift.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
This again? — I know some people really dug the story elements and the voice that talks to you in between levels, but to me, the female computer who is clearly lying to you about your purpose and going on about how you just have to complete these trials has been done too many times before. It doesn’t really get in the way of enjoying the game, but I’d have liked to have seen a fresher story element added.
Enough already — While normally we complain about games being too short, I started feeling like I had had enough about five sectors into Q.U.B.E. It’s a little different when you’re playing through a game quickly for the sake of writing a review, but I felt like I had seen enough and had had my fun already. This of course isn’t too much of a knock, though, because if you’re really loving it, content is always a good thing.
Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut is a great brain-teaser. It’s unique, it looks cool, and gives you a real sense of accomplishment when you beat a level. That’s exactly what a good puzzle game should do.
Score: Buy It
Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut was developed and published by Grip Games on Xbox One. It was released on July 24, 2015 for $9.99. A copy was provided by Grip Games for review purposes.