Time flies, eh? Toxic Games’ debut title, Q.U.B.E., launched on PC way back in 2011. The Mac version followed the year after, and eventually console and mobile ports. Now, 11 years and a sequel later, a remaster has been made available for modern formats. This Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary review will take you through the ins-and-outs of a decade-old game, and exactly what has been done to ensure it feels fresh in modern times.
I actually had the pleasure of reviewing Q.U.B.E. upon it’s initial release. While I remember enjoying it, the literal thousands of games I have reviewed since had somewhat erased it from my memory. Which may well be a good thing, as no one wants to go into a puzzle game remembering all the solutions! That being said, the game offers two gameplay modes. The first, a series of puzzles with no storyline. The second, heralded as the ‘director’s cut’, includes the story and extended levels. Whichever way you look at it, Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary isn’t quite the same experience as it was a decade ago.
The plot of the second mode has you cast as a deep space traveller with no memory. Your mission is to enter a thing in space and destroy it before it collides with the Earth. A one-way conversation with Commander Novac fills you in on the details in place of a tutorial. This is a game designed for people who know how first-person games work. And more than likely, fans of the Portal series in particular.
The objective of the game is quite simple. Moving through rooms you’ll have to interact with objects to create a path. Left trigger pushes down or in, right trigger up or out. It begins very simple, but as with all the best puzzle games, it has you scratching your head sooner rather than later. Even within the first Sector (read: level) you’ll encounter blocks that remain static, some that bounce and some which move simultaneously with a singe button push. You’ll quickly learn to alternate between the triggers to achieve the desired effect.
Later Sectors has you creating free-moving blocks, which you have to catapult into place using the aforementioned fixed blocks. Additional challenges soon arise including navigating a ball across a short map. It’s a series of challenges that steadily rise in complexity, with really inly two major faults. The first simply being that there isn’t enough of it; even in this Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary edition, it’s likely that you’ll finish the core game mode in just a handful of hours. Thankfully, there’s also a selection of additional levels to keep you occupied.
The second major issue is actually more concerning. Possibly ensuring that many people won’t reach the latter Sectors. As a first-person game that relies heavily on platforming, the jumping feels somewhat underdeveloped. It’s a simple issue; you never quite feel as though you’re making the distance that the speed and trajectory of your lift-of suggests. Couple this with the fact that there is no ledge grab (automated or otherwise) and you’ll find that you’ll be repeating many of the game’s precision-perfect jumps simply because you left the platform a few centimetres early. It’s a real shame. It makes what is otherwise a perfectly pleasing brain-teaser a regular annoyance; repeating several steps because of an awkward movement, instead of any mental taxation.
That issue aside, Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary is just as compelling an experience now as it would’ve been 11 years ago. If you’re looking for a different type of puzzle game, or a new way to experience first-person games, Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary is well worth picking-up. Just be prepared to be forced to redo your efforts many times until you learn to compensate for the jumping.
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