Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut Review – Mind Boggling Squared

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Q.U.B.E. (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion), the mind boggling Portal-like puzzler, has made the jump from the PC world and into the console world. Was it a successful transition, or should the game be boxed up and left outside? Read our review to find out.

Q.U.B.E. (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion) 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 game, an expansion of a student project by the founding members of Toxic Games, was originally released for the PC in 2011 and later for the MAC in late 2012. The latest release of the game, Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut, includes a story mode that wasn’t in the original release.

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One the game first starts, you’re told that you’ve been unconscious for two weeks and are stuck inside a giant alien structure that is hurtling towards Earth. It is now you mission to prevent this structure from slamming into our planet, and your only guidance comes from a one-way communication system linked to the International Space Station. Your suit was damaged while you were entering this structure, so no one can hear you, but you can at least hear their communications. The voice warns you that you might be suffering from amnesia and presses you to solve the puzzles inside the structure as they might be the only way to stop this huge monstrosity from crashing into earth. As  you progress through the many puzzles and levels of this structure, a second voice enters the fray and tells you that things aren’t what they seem and adds to the overall mystery of the story.

The story, while mysterious and entertaining, ended up being on the short side, and that’s sad because it had the potential of going in many directions and could have been easily stretched out from an hour and a half to several hours of game play. The dialogue from the voices in your helmet was well written and left you wondering what was coming next. It would have been great if they could have come up with more to keep us entertained longer.

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In the game, the player guides their avatar through a series of levels to make their way to an exit. Our character is equipped with special gloves that can perform a number of functions on specific blocks to reach the exit. The game employs a sterile monochromatic environment that highlights the colored blocks that the player can interact with, and is comparable to the Portal series. That’s not a bad thing, as Portal was a fun game in itself.

The physics based puzzles start out pretty basic in the first couple of sectors, with each sector introducing another aspect to the puzzling system. By the time you get to the final sector, the puzzles have become exponentially harder and mind boggling, but at the same time only a few of them were as hard as we first thought they would be. Whether you are moving simple blocks around, maneuvering a ball through a tilt puzzle, or guiding laser like lights around an object, all of the puzzles were fun and entertaining, even if some of them were a little too simple. We will say that a couple of puzzles with magnets had us stumped for a little while, but we did finally work our way through them.

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Once you’ve completed the story mode of Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut, the fun and puzzling isn’t quite over yet. You can then jump into the Against the Clock mode, which just like it sounds, is a bunch of levels designed for time trials where it’s you against the clock, trying to complete levels as fast as you can. Each level has pick-ups lying around that can give you boosts to speed, can take away time from your clock, or give you a short-cut.

This mode can easily stretch your game-play from a couple hours up to four or more, depending on how competitive you are, and depending on how well you do. Each level gives stars based on your finish-time, and locked levels require a certain number of stars to be earned to unlock them, so completionists have their work cut out for them. This is a fun mode that requires memory and quick fingers, with a bit of luck and practice thrown in, in order to do well.

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Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut is a fun game that developer Toxic Games did a great job on. The puzzles ranged from too simple to mind boggling, but in the end the game left us wanting more. That’s definitely not a bad thing, and for $9.99, not a bad price for a fun afternoon of puzzling around space.

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