Q.U.B.E. (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion) Directors Cut is the predecessor to Q.U.B.E 2 which just released on March 13th 2018. Originally releasing in 2012 via Steam, Q.U.B.E is a physics-based puzzle video game developed and published by Toxic Games, with help from Indie Fund, a group of successful independent game developers. The directors cut introduces story elements to the game, it was released in 2015 on current gen consoles.
The player finds themselves awoken, wearing a special suit with unique gloves on a strange ship. You are contacted over radio by a woman named Commander Nowak. Nowak says that she’s an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, and warns that the protagonist may have amnesia as a side effect of the space travel they’ve underwent. You are currently aboard a cube-shaped alien vessel on a collision course with Earth. The player is informed they must use their suit to decipher their way through the barren ship in a few hours, which will cause the ship to self-dismantle and collapse before it can destroy the planet. With the player unable to send messages back and the Space Station orbiting behind earth, Nowak encourages the player to push onwards, before routinely losing contact.
Proceeding through the puzzles the player is soon reached by a desperate man warning that the story about Earth and space are all lies, and that the player is actually underground and a lab rat acting in tests. What will you believe?
The gloves that you possess can interact with specific blocks that are in the walls, floors, and ceilings of the various rooms as he progresses. The function of the blocks are distinguished by colour: red blocks can be extended or retracted; yellow blocks, always in groups of three, can be used to make stair-like structures; blue blocks can be retracted to act like a springboard to whatever touches them; purple blocks provide means to rotate sections of walls of a room; and green blocks provide a sphere or cube, which the player will need to manipulate. In the early stages, the player’s goal is to use a combination of these blocks to get themselves to an exit point, allowing them to move to the next chamber.
As the player progresses deeper into the unknown complex, new more complex puzzle aspects are introduced.
Since its release Q.U.B.E. has been heavily compared to Portal and it’s very easy to see why. You may not have a portal gun but you have gloves instead. You may not have colourful portals but here you have colourful cubes. That said, Q.U.B.E. manages to be more than just some kind of carbon copy or rip off. Not only are the puzzles you solve not entirely similar to those found in Portal but Q.U.B.E. manages to deliver a compelling narrative at the same time. No doubt, inspired by the famous franchise from Valve but still something in its own right at the same time. In fact, I’d compare it to The Turing Test much more which released in 2016.
Each puzzle you encounter is well crafted and their complexity ramps up at a steady, welcoming pace. Much like Portal, you’ll have to really think and try different things if you want to progress. At times, the solution can be rather obvious. However, at others finding the correct way of doing things can be a real head scratcher. In the latter stages, the difficulty is quite extreme. Trial & error is a given with these types of games. It can be frustrating but seeing everything come together is very satisfying. Thankfully, Q.U.B.E. is a mercifully short experience that won’t leave you feeling stupid for too long.
Overall, Q.U.B.E. is a good puzzle/platformer in the same vein as games like Portal. It shows its age with some rough looking visuals. Still, the vibrancy of the colours used is pleasing to the eye. The story is interesting enough that it will keep you hooked. Although, it isn’t entirely satisfying even if the voice-acting is well done. I’ll certainly be checking out the newly released sequel in the near future.
Q.U.B.E. Directors Cut