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Destructoid review: Cuboid

3:30 PM on 01.19.2009 // Brad Nicholson

A cuboid is a convex polyhedron. A rectangular cuboid has three pairs of equal, opposite rectangular faces. Each pair of adjacent faces meets in a right angle. I’m sure mathematicians created the cuboid for a variety of good reasons. I'm absolutely certain one of those reasons was not to facilitate the creation of a PlayStation Network title.

Honestly, I write about videogames so I don’t have to think about cuboids. But, I find myself doing so anyway as a result of Creat Studios’ creation, Cuboid. It’s a 3D puzzle title starring the beloved geometric figure discussed above.

Cuboid has a number of things going for it. It also has a few hitches. I enjoy some things about the game, but there are also things that I don’t enjoy. The things that I do enjoy may outweigh the things that I don’t.

Then again, it could be the other way around. Oh, my vagueness? It’s because I wrote a review that I want you to read. Hit the break for it.

Cuboid (PlayStation Network)
Developed by Creat Studios and TikGames
Published by
Creat Studios
Released on January 8, 2009 (US)

Cuboid is a slick 3D puzzle title that has players navigate a rectangular prism across a platform littered with tiles. The goal is to sink the bronzed Cuboid vertically into a glowing, fluorescent blue gap.

Movement is confined to rigid horizontal and vertical flops and slides. The Cuboid’s horizontal movement requires two tiles, while the vertical only one. The piece lacks any sort of special powers or abilities. It is a slave to the level design. Gameplay, then, is defined by your ability to maneuver the piece through the designer’s creation. A creation -- a puzzle, really -- that ultimately has one solution with slight variants.

The gameplay progresses at a rapid rate. The initial stages feature only tiles with an endpoint that is easy to handle. Within a few levels, Cuboid evolves into a heavy-handed, unique puzzle title. The introductions of wooden planks, switches, and teleports radically change the way you play the game. Reasoning fades from simplistic to complex, radically so in the latter half of the game’s Expert levels.

I find that my most satisfying moments in Cuboid are when I complete a level with a vast amount of teleports. Teleports are unique from the other two devices in the game (switches and planks). Once vertical contact is established, your Cuboid is split into two individually controllable cubes. They are then thrust to opposite sides of the platform, where switches and planks clog what seems to be a clear solution. Once you find an apparent route, the cubes must meet, where they melt to become the rectangular prism.

Teleports are quite the monkey wrench. Aside from their antics, I find Cuboid to be satisfying. Levels require a good bit of spatial reasoning and an ability to think forward. I especially appreciate the design. Cuboid rarely ever puts you in a position of total loss, where only a “Restart Game” option is required (or you could just fall off the ledge).  Levels feel unique, despite their visual likenesses. The latter half of the game is where Cuboid really excels. The interplay between the different obstacles is vast and accomplishing these levels is deeply gratifying.

However, there are issues. The game has sixty levels, split across two difficulty campaigns. The Beginner tier can be cleared in less than an hour. The Expert tier -- and this depends on your prowess within the last 10 levels -- only lasts 2-3 hours. Length withstanding, I believe there are a lot of rehashed movements. After extended play, you become very familiar with how to rotate the Cuboid into positions that you have seen before. I also did not appreciate the manic difficulty. Easy levels bookmark the insanely difficult.

Like Q-Games’ PixelJunk Eden, it’s hard not to enjoy the atmosphere of Cuboid. The backdrops are pleasantly rendered, serene environments. The music matches the mood well with its light instrumentation and lofty beats. Subtle sound effects (including the Cuboid’s flop) present an easily digestible experience. The work done on the Cuboid itself adds a flavor to an otherwise uninteresting piece.

Cuboid is a competent puzzle title, presented wonderfully with a relaxing atmosphere. Its few failings aren’t negligible. The duration of play, sporadic difficulty, and lack of network playability leaves much to be desired.  But the design concepts, level variety, and engaging gameplay are elements that outweigh the failings. Puzzle title enthusiasts shouldn’t have a problem footing the bill for the game, but be weary if this stuff usually isn’t your cup of tea.

Score: 7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)


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