QUBE, or Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion, is a first person puzzle game that focuses on extruding blocks to reach the exit. QUBE is a recent PC indie release from UK based games developer Toxic Games that is made up of three former university classmates.
QUBE starts off with you waking up as an elevator takes you down a white shaft to a white corridor with everything being made up of white cubes. QUBE looks very nice, everything is crisp and clean and the blocks you can manipulate, being bright colours, stand out nicely. The white blocks that make up the walls and floor aren’t just there to look nice; they also serve a purpose in some places. In some areas the walls will move to block off a path to direct you down another or rise up before you to make stairs. These things make the games environments stand out from others. The feel of the games puzzle rooms and sectors, at least initially, do feel a lot like the test chambers in Portal. They are both pristine and clean rooms where you must solve the puzzle before progressing on to the next one. The similarities to Portal don’t end there either. Later on in the game you’ll end up having to traverse ‘behind the scenes’ areas to make progress. That said though, one part where this differs from Portal is the complete lack of a story or narative. No voice overs from a malevolent AI or scrawls hidden on the walls behind panels. There is an ending cutscene but it adds no form of story or narrative. It’s just wake up then straight onto puzzles.
Speaking of the puzzles, QUBE does a great job with slowly introducing you to new puzzle elements and block types. You start off getting the three main blocks introduced to you, red can extrude up to three times, blue act as jump pads when pushed in and yellow are three blocks long that extrude in a step like fashion depending on the part you extrude on (e.g. if it’s going left to right and you extrude the left most then that one will go three blocks high, the middle two and the right most one block high). There are also green blocks (and spheres) that need to be guided to special areas that unlock doors or walls and purple wall panels that rotate sections of the room. The three main blocks (red, blue and yellow) and panels (purple for rotate, orange for resetting and blue for magnets) are the only things you can interact with and your only interactions are pull blocks (Left Mouse), push blocks (Right Mouse) and jump (Space). Though the controls and the concepts behind the blocks are simple the puzzles can get pretty damn tricky. The first few sections are rather easy but the later stuff can really make you think and force you to plan your moves due to the addition of a new mechanic that lets you colour certain blocks. The main goal throughout the game is the same though; to solve the puzzles (by extruding blocks) to get to the next area, usually by unlocking or door or reaching a ledge that holds the path to the next puzzle.
Sadly though, QUBE is pretty damn short. It took me around 2-3 hours according to Steam. The team have stated they might add a level editor in the future and that would easily add hours of playtime. The lack of any narrative also hurts QUBE and left me confused with the ending. It’s also a bit pricy for the length I think at £11.99. It’s not bad by any means though and is quite a bit of fun. Check it out if you like first person puzzle games and don’t mind spending the £11.99 on a short game.
QUBE is available now on Steam, Desura, Playism and Gamersgate for around £10.