Format reviewed: Wii U eShop
Other formats available: PS3 and 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Toxic Games
Publisher: Grip Games
Website: Official Website
Claustrophobic? Feeling trapped and pining for the fjords? Then don’t pick up Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut, a brain-twisting first-person puzzler set in a futuristic cube-based enclosure which allows walls to move all around you, trapping you in its grip and only relenting upon successful completion of a riddle. Waking from a six-week concussion you find yourself enclosed in an elaborate set of puzzle rooms. Using special high-tech gloves to manipulate cubes in the environment, you shall have to solve an array of conundrums – from physics-based challenges such as magnetism; to 3D jigsaws within the manipulation of space; to platform-based trials such as building bridges and stairs.
Please don’t think Q.U.B.E: DC is a series of unconnected puzzles rooms though, there is a well implemented story told via voice acting throughout. A one-way intermittent radio transmission from an unknown source gives vital information of your plight and goal; to journey into the center of the mysterious cube and destroy it from within before it can reach Earth and eradicate all life on our planet; but not all is what it seems.
The game looks great, in aesthetic and HD shininess, and plays fluidly with no hints of slowdown or stuttering. Movement is controlled by the left analogue stick, moving you around in first-person mode, whilst the right stick takes control of direction of sight. The A button leaps you into the air 1 cube high. Those of you who are masters of first-person shooters will be right at home here. However, the infuriation of being forced to use a non-inverted sight axis was too much at first. I play my games with airplane controls, push forward to look down, and Q.U.B.E: DC does not offer any variation on its control scheme. It literally took me 2 ½ hours of play before feeling totally comfortable with the, to me, reverse axis orientation. That said you will feel disorientated at points due to the similarity of the environment in all directions. Merely rotating around is enough to cause concern over the direction that you need to take, in fact the game revels in trying to put you off at points, especially during the darker puzzles where coloured blocks can only be turned on one at a time like light switches.
Amidst all this continuity of white/gray blocks, vibrant primary coloured blocks can be manipulated by depresses of the shoulder triggers. ZL makes a block extend/protrude outwards, and ZR has the opposite effect. Red blocks can be extended 3 cube lengths and are your standard block of deployment. Blue blocks extend only 1 cube height, but when depressed they spring up and launch whatever happens to be placed upon it, you or other objects. Yellow blocks come in a line of three and depending on which block you choose to extend, extend in different shapes, such as stair cases. Green objects are movable and if an error occurs can be reset to their original starting position. Purple blocks allow for the rotation of rooms, etc. And that’s not mentioning all the other hazards/objects that can be manipulated, including magnets, lasers, rolling balls, etc.
The meat of any puzzle game, however pretty and with whatever production values, is held within its puzzles. Q.U.B.E: DC’s puzzles most certainly do not disappoint. Variety is the key, and as the game progresses new ideas arrive based on the moving and rotation of cubes that will leave you flummoxed at many points. Guiding balls through mazes, using magnetism, building platforms to jump up to, rotating towers to deflect lasers, colour match rotation puzzles, moving floor marble madness style puzzles, and many more await the intrepid explorer. All puzzles can be completed with logical thought and a little trial and error. Some, but very few, puzzles are marred with an inconsistency in physics which will hamper the final objective and annoy the player by having to repeat an intricate series of colour changing cube depresses/extensions. These are so few that once passed are easily forgotten by the player when placed within another thought bending experience.
Also of note are stumbled upon secret entrances that are hidden among seemingly innocuous hallways, which provide extraneous puzzle challenges, such as a tetris-style rotation colour matches.
Off TV play is awesome and I spent most of my time playing Q.U.B.E: DC this way, that said the game is beautiful in its simplicity that it looks delightful on an HD TV. Unfortunately, it’s the only GamePad support you’ll find within the whole game. Fortunately, Off TV Play does suit this type of game very well.
The game boasts an all-new original soundtrack. But the whole game is full of so many sound glitches that render some sounds inaudible now and then. A rotating room should always make a creaking mechanical effect, but when it only makes this sound 50% of the time it’s quite off-putting. This happens far too frequently for its own good. For the record, I played Q.U.B.E: DC via an external HDD that I have received no prior problems with. The music is atmospheric and hauntingly accurate for the science-fiction claustrophobic environment, but also stops at random times, only to reappear when another effect kicks in. Other glitches during my playthrough involved getting stuck on scenery, having to reset to the Main Menu and redo all the last 5 minutes of puzzles.
For the speed freaks out there, Q.U.B.E: DC implements a well thought out Special Time Trial mode with 10 playable levels to race through whilst collecting tokens, called Against the Qlock. Upload your fastest times to the web and bask in the glory of your achievements.
With a large variety of puzzle types on offer, a lengthy playtime for its asking price and game-type (I reached 5 hours on my first playthrough), bonus Time Trials, and an intriguing, if somewhat clichéd, story, that was well voice acted throughout, Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut on the Wii U is easy to recommend. Even coming across a few glitches with sound and scenery trappings were not enough to detract from a wonderfully innovative and thoroughly enjoyable puzzle experience. Highly recommended.
This review was written by Lee Davies and originally appeared on Nintendo: Review