I remember hearing about Q.U.B.E. years ago and felt it another cash-in on the success of Portal. Having never played it and feeling an itch for a good puzzler I relished the chance to take the Director’s Cut for a spin. Only on finishing it did I look to see what the Director’s Cut added – time trial DLC included within the game and an expanded narrative. I am glad I had chance to play the DC version as I thought the narrative was brilliant.
Not often am I determined to blast through a game in one (or two actually) long sittings. This had me gripped – quite a feat for a puzzle game and not dissimilar to the same way the Portal games grabbed me. But first – what’s it about?
You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s Portal with squares. It’s very similar – you wake up, can’t remember anything and a voice from a nearby ISS astronaut explains that you’re inside a giant alien structure and must prevent it from crashing into the Earth. You do that by solving puzzles inside it which make it break down. As you progress you hear more dialogue from the ISS – often good, sometimes quite brilliant but there’s an interruption early on from another voice basically suggesting ‘the cake is a lie’. Again, another nod to Portal but the story didn’t go the obvious way I thought so to save spoiling it I will leave you to discover.
The puzzles are the main gig here. They expand through the seven sectors of the game from what is simple to mind bending. Every so on a new element is introduced and is done so in such a way that you never feel too overwhelmed with an easy introduction before increasing the complexity.
You operate the puzzles by your gloves, one basically turning blocks ‘on’ and another ‘off’. Different coloured blocks have different properties, so red can extend out, yellow extend at fixed different levels but in blocks of three, blue is a spring. You quickly master this and then purple is introduced. Purple rotate parts of or entire rooms. You then meet neutral blocks and balls which must be moved and can change colour, magnets to pull stuff around, coloured cabling to power, light refraction cubes and finally… well I’ll leave it as a surprise. When it all comes together you often feel like it will be impossible to solve but a bit of trial and error gets you there and I often laughed to myself and felt like a genius when I cracked it.
There are a couple of puzzles which require some quick timing. I probably spent longer on these than the others – this isn’t a game that quick FPS style actions really benefit so the few puzzles that required these drove me to YouTube to see if I was missing something. Sadly not, and repetition solved it. This was a tad annoying but didn’t impact my overall experience too much. I had a particularly annoying incident where I solved a reaction puzzle only to have the PS4 hard lock. I’ve seen a few reports of this online but I only saw it the once so hardly a major problem.
The campaign is not the longest – I finished it in four and a half hours although I’ve read that folks are nailing it in 90 minutes to three hours the first time (90 mins?? Unlikely). I enjoyed it thoroughly though and just wish there was a bit more. The other DLC content which is included – a time trial mode does add a few other features such as reduced gravity but there are no achievements for doing this so you’re playing for leaderboard kudos.
To summarise then, an excellent puzzler. Could be longer, could have the couple of reaction puzzles swapped out but very enjoyable, great story and gets your brain working. Recommended.
Reviewed on PS4