Q.U.B.E originally released on PC over four years ago, introducing a puzzle game that looked to be inspired by Valve’s own Portal series. Instead of portals being used to traverse levels developer Toxic Games focused on utilising cubes to navigate various stages. Last year a Director’s Cut was released adding to the base game an actual story, as well as a new soundtrack, to give some more depth to what is quite a minimalist puzzle title. This Director’s Cut has now made an appearance on consoles, and if you’re looking for a decent puzzle game then Q.U.B.E may have you covered.
As stated Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut is a game where different types of cubes are used to solve puzzles inside a mysterious location. There are five main different types that have different properties to help solve a puzzle. For example the blue cubes act like springs, the yellow could be used as stairs, the red one a platform, and the purple to move the walls. Things start off incredibly simple and you’ll find the early stages aren’t much of a challenge at all. This allows you to get used to all the different solutions required while setting a good pace. The left and right trigger buttons are mapped to the corresponding hands of the character, and most of the control is intuitive. There were a couple of moments where I felt that the reaction between a button press and screen action was a bit off, leading to me having to reset a puzzle.
Simplicity doesn’t last forever, and you do run into puzzles that take quite a bit of thinking to solve. Most can be triumphed by experimenting a bit or just taking in all the information and pacing yourself. There were a couple though that had me scratching my head for ages, with these puzzles providing a difficulty spike and slowing down proceedings a bit. Fortunately there were only a couple of these puzzles that seemed to halt progress for a while. The majority of challenges have been well crafted, and I never felt like there was anything unfair about the stage designs.
Q.U.B.E’s visual design is quite bare with a lot of the levels being rooms of white, with the only other colours present being those of the blocks and the character’s gloved hands. This design works well as such plain areas help you focus on the problem at hand, and without distractions that get in the way. Plain here doesn’t mean boring though and you may find yourself drawn to certain parts of a room that may yield a hidden area to explore. When there is a tonal shift in the visuals it feels striking purely because of the sudden change from plain white rooms.
As mentioned Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut has an added story that wasn’t in the original. Again like the level design it isn’t overbearing. In fact most of it is done through the communication between your silent protagonist and your advisor on this mission. It seems pretty straight forward at first but you soon start questioning what is going on, with doubts seeding themselves in your mind. The voice acting is done well and helps to add a certain tension to the game. You won’t be in constant contact with anyone but when spoken to I found myself stopping and listening to the next bit of exposition provided by the advisor. You are left guessing right up until the conclusion, and even then there are some questions that remain.
The main campaign can be be completed in around four to five hours but that isn’t all there is to offer in Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut, with some time trial stages available in Against The Qlock mode. In these stages you’ll have the cubes to help navigate courses as well as power ups that can increase jump height as well as running speed. Within the mode thinking quickly is key if you want to set a decent time, requiring you to work out solutions quickly. Again the plainer design is a crucial element in this as you pick out the cubes and power ups quickly.
Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut is a very good puzzle game that incorporates a decent story that keeps you guessing right until the very end. The minimalist design throughout the game allows the puzzles to stand out, and nothing feels wasted. Toxic Games have created quite a memorable experience with this game. There is some issue with the final portion of the game with a couple of spikes in difficulty, but overall Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut is a fun and accessible title that offers a fair challenge. If you’re into puzzle platformers then you should strongly consider picking this up.
Version tested: PS4