By: David Tavernier
Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut (or QUBE for short) is a first-person puzzle game much in the same vein as Portal. Does it have the same quality as Portal? The answer to that is, while it isn’t quite as good it does hold up on its own.
Comparing QUBE to Portal is inevitable given their similarities. This is unfair, however, and to truly evaluate QUBE you must view it on its own merits. What comes next is such an analysis. I will try to judge QUBE by its various qualities and determine if it is a good buy or not.
Moving, jumping and manipulating puzzle elements are all quite simple in QUBE, and there was no point where I felt like performing tasks was overly difficult due to the controls. The triggers perform most of the manipulating of puzzle elements, with one extending blocks and the other depressing them, as well as performing other actions like activating a ball dropper or resetting a puzzle back to its starting configuration.
Sometimes the physics can be a little irksome, though. For instance, a ball that you are trying to bounce into a goal might not bounce as you’d expect it to, or pushing a ball with yellow steps may not force the ball into the appropriate location. Conversely, the physics of the game make it so that there are multiple ways of solving several puzzles, which is a good thing.
Voice acting in QUBE is quite good. Along the way you’ll encounter radio transmissions from both a female and male voice. These are very well done and contribute to the space age atmosphere. By the end of the game, you’ll have a hard time determining who is telling the truth and who is lying, or whether the transmissions are the work of the completely insane. The background music is also good. It sounds futuristic, which matches the graphics in each environment.
Visually, QUBE is pleasant but not great. True to its name, all of the environments are composed of (mostly gray) cubes. The cubes that you can interact with are colorful, and this differentiates them from the gray backgrounds. The main character appears to be wearing some sort of space suit because while interacting with these cubes your gloved hands are viewable (gloves that change color depending on which type of cube you are interacting with).
The gameplay in QUBE is compelling. As you move forward you will face increasingly difficult puzzles of various types. The first puzzles will be completed by simply manipulating different types of blocks. Red blocks can move upward/downward or forward/backward up to three times. Yellow blocks can form three different types of stairways. And blue ones are like a catapult that will bounce you up into the air (straight up or at an angle sometimes).
Up next are puzzles that’ll be completed by manipulating blocks to bounce around a moving ball. Then there are puzzles that involve magnets that pull blocks backward and forward. Next are puzzles where you have to manipulate a moving orb that travels systematically. And so on, and so on. The different types of puzzles make sure that the gameplay doesn’t become stagnant as you move through the game.
There’s also an interesting narrative in QUBE. You are given two sides of the story, one from a male voice and one from a female voice. The woman tells you that you’re in space, while the man says you’re deep underground, and that you shouldn’t trust her. So there is a dichotomy and you have to choose who you will believe. As you progress, more of the strange story is filled in, and this helps drive you forward, making the impetus to complete puzzles more compelling.
Q.U.B.E.: Director’s Cut features puzzles that will make you think, sometimes for quite a while. For $9.99 you get hours of perplexing puzzle gameplay, a solid story and a satisfying ending. If you are down for that kind of experience, QUBE could be the right game for you.