Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts


Review: Q.U.B.E.

2:00 PM on 01.19.2012 // Kyle MacGregor

In 2007 a game featuring inter-spatial portals and physics-based gameplay came out of nowhere. Only two hours long, it was a demo, proof of concept, an experience that created an unlikely pairing between the first-person shooter and puzzle game genres. And yet Valve's Portal captivated the hearts and minds of millions. 

Now, over four years later, it's fascinating that in an industry that seems bound and determined to recreate the successes of others, first-person puzzle games are still something of a rarity. However, thanks to the Indie Fund, players yearning for another foray into this relatively unexplored sub-genre have something new to sink their teeth into with Toxic Games' maiden release, Q.U.B.E.

Q.U.B.E. (PC)
Developer: Toxic Games
Publisher: Toxic Games
Released: January 6, 2012
MSRP: $14.99
Rig: Intel Core i7-2670QM @2.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, GeForce G 540M, Windows 7 64-bit

Q.U.B.E. (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion) begins with the player awakening face-down in a cold, desolate room comprised of nothing other than white cubes. Given no directive, players will eventually come into contact with a variety of strategically placed colored blocks. Through the use of a pair of futuristic gloves, players must manipulate the environment in such a way that allows the unnamed protagonist to escape the room and proceed to the next puzzle.

Everything from aesthetics to concept and design invite comparisons with Portal -- an association that isn’t always flattering for the new release. This contrast is most exemplified through Q.U.B.E.’s exiguous story. What little there is mirrors that of the first adventure through the Enrichment Center as pristine testing environments eventually give way to something much darker, more dilapidated, and sinister. Unfortunately, it's all smoke and mirrors that builds to virtually nothing. It's enough to make one wonder why Toxic Games bothered at all if they weren't going to fully commit to the concept.

While there is little to hook one's interest in terms of narrative or persiflage from a robotic overseer, for the most part Q.U.B.E.'s campaign is incredibly well paced in terms of gameplay. Blocks with new attributes and other mechanics are steadily introduced throughout the game at a rate that always keeps things fresh and interesting. Additionally, save for a few exasperating exceptions, puzzles are typically implemented with appropriate levels of challenge and increasing complexity throughout the six or so hour journey.

Early puzzles hinge on the player's understanding of how each new block type interacts with one another and the environment, in conjunction with spatial reasoning and awareness. As one might expect, these first chapters revolve around some light platforming and using blocks to move the player from step to step. Eventually these sequential solutions will result in surmounting the obstacle that once prevented the player from escaping a given room and then it's time to move on to the next puzzle.

Things become much more interesting when the player is almost removed from the equation entirely for more physics-based, timing-oriented challenges. For example, some rooms involve spheres traveling down a sloped path towards what is effectively a keyhole on the opposite side of the room. Of course it isn't as easy as it sounds. There are depressions in the floor that will prevent the ball from reaching the target, so players must trap, push, and launch the balls towards the desired destination using blocks scattered around the room to unlock the door.

The challenge ramps up considerably as the game nears its zenith. The feelings of intense joy associated with finding a solution to a particularly difficult room are quickly followed by more head-scratching (and violent outbursts) at the even more complex challenge that lies just beyond. Regrettably, that difficulty curve hits a wall when Q.U.B.E. introduces a series of puzzles involving magnets. The solution to these puzzles are relatively simple but demand a level of the precision that the game almost doesn't allow for, making them difficult in all the wrong ways.

In clear contrast to the rest of the game where clever thinking equates to success, luck and persistence play a larger role in overcoming the magnet puzzles than anything else. I also had the misfortune of playing through this miserable section of the game twice thanks to a game-breaking save data glitch and Q.U.B.E.'s exclusive use of autosave. As annoying as that was, the feature isn't all bad. Later on it proved rather useful when an integral part of a puzzle vanished with no explanation.

Interestingly enough, the loathsome magnet puzzles, unresponsive controls and errors all coincided with the pinnacle of Q.U.B.E.’s vapid narrative. It was as if the entire game built up to a moment of anticipation only to fizzle and leave a lasting stain on what was otherwise a great experience.

There is a brief coda that helps to remedy some of these problems. The final rooms offer a short series of free-form puzzles that stand apart from the rest of the campaign. These challenges employ the skills the player will develop over the course of the game and unleash them on puzzles that feel far less restrictive whilst exemplifying some of the most entertaining and inventive design that Q.U.B.E. has to offer. Sadly, it's over all too quickly, acting like a chaser to make a bitter pill easier to swallow. 

I found it rather unfortunate that Toxic Games waited until the final moments before the credits began roll to showcase some of their strongest material. I finished Q.U.B.E. wanting more -- something I mean both as a compliment and criticism. It's airy, far too subtle, and poses far more questions that it cares to answer. Even with so much unrealized potential, this fledgling studio has created something compelling and it will be exciting to see what they do next.

Q.U.B.E. may not be the most original game. It has problems and leaves plenty of room for improvement. Regardless, it's a genuinely enjoyable experience that fans of first-person puzzlers should not miss out on. 



Q.U.B.E. - Reviewed by Kyle MacGregor
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:

  Aug 16

Q.U.B.E. 2 announced for PS4, Project Morpheus

Toxic Games' first-person puzzler returns!

  Apr 30

Q.U.B.E.: Against the Qlock hits Steam next week

That shot near the end looked interesting

  Apr 30

Real savings on this Unreal Steam bundle

The Ball, Dungeon Defenders, Q.U.B.E., and more

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

Sharp cut Digital Flatbed Cutter | Sharpcut Flatbed Cutters

Things I'm Thankful For

Cblogs of 11/25/15 + Turkey N Stuff

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 73: Stay Classy

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If you haven't played Tales from the Borderlands yet, GO BUY IT! By far the funniest game I have ever played, and the characters and narrative are incredibly well written. Very few memes unlike BL2 by the way.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Played all of Life is Strange today in one sitting. Bloody hell. You should all play it. Only game this year to make me cry. Bravo developers. Possibly the most valuable thing I've ever bought for £10.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, got farther than ever in Wasteland 2. This is my third playthrough-once thru beta, once through the orig version, now on Directors cut. Worth the restart, and it speaks highly of the game that I like it enough to do this. DAMONTA HERE I COME!
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
GUYS HELP I KEEP BUYING MORE AMIIBO. Today it was Little Mac, since he went back up on Gamestop's website. I probably would have gotten Captain Falcon as well if I wasn't already running a little short on cash.
BigDoniel avatarBigDoniel
50 hours in and I can safely say that Xenoblade is the best JRPG I've played in years. Should hopefully be finished in time for X too!
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
One job down on day I should have off, now for the other job.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I beat Murasaki Baby on PS Vita. Easy 100% trophy. That ending theme tho.
TheGwailo avatarTheGwailo
I have 34 games in my Steam queue alone, 4 on xbone, and a handful on handhelds. I have 3 days to make a dent. Time's up, let's do this!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: To make up for yesterday, I decided to ask a second Community Question today. Have you taken advantage of any Black Friday deals today? If so, what did you purchase? Feel free to share pictures of your spoils, if you have any.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Some Black Friday artwork arrived today ! [img][/img]
Lawman avatarLawman
Black Friday is getting to me. All these games I kinda, maybe want that are at anywhere between respectable and deep discounts, but I'm not sure if I want to bite. I'm wondering if Godzilla's worth $12? After checking review scores, I'm not sure.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Mission complete![IMG][/IMG]
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Black Friday slowly seems to creep its way onto Continental Europe, but I'm not complaining! I managed to get my grubby little paws on a new physical copy of The Wonderful 101 for €20! Thanks, America!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Since I missed yesterday, I am going to do something a little different today. Are there any questions you would like to ask me for a change? If so, please feel free. I may add a second Community Question later today, as well.
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Isn't PES 2016 Free-to-Play model just the demo with extra crap thrown in?
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Damn Gumo, you cold as fuck. [img][/img]
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
While partially responsible for one of the biggest jokes in the metal, Cold Lake by Celtic Frost, Curt Bryant is doing the soundtrack to the game Slain!. I'm digging the shitty garage band vibe.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
How is the Lightening thread STILL GETTING COMMENTS!?!?!? P.S. I am trying to make Chex Mix, but we lost my special recipe I custom designed. sucks man.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Got a deal on a Surface Pro 3 model that I wanted. Now I just need a deal on a PS TV in Canada and I'm golden.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
If you in the UK, don't have a PS4 and don't mind buying used/display goods there's a few reconditioned PS4 (12 month warranty) on amazon for £199.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -