Q.U.B.E. Director's Cut (Xbox One) Review

By Albert Lichi 24.07.2015

Review for Q.U.B.E. Director

The 2011 first-person puzzler Q.U.B.E. is back on the Xbox One with some extra content, including a story! Puzzle adventure games became quite the phenomena after Valve's smashing success with Portal, its sequel, and titles likr Quantum Conundrum, Magrunner: Dark Pulse, Antichamber, and the recent The Talos Principle. Toxic Games set out to leave its mark on the first-person puzzler genre, but is this box worth opening? Cubed3 finds out.

The most distinguishing characteristics about Q.U.B.E. Director's Cut are its obvious similarities to the Portal series. The aesthetics and even narrative are similar to the point of being distracting at times, but unlike Portal, it lacks much wit or even basic charm and comes off as dry and monotone—almost like a boring geometry professor. Some of the narrative beats are even identical to Portal, like how the main character is mute and has to perform a series of tests while communicating to a disembodied female voice. There are even moments in later levels where the protagonist can inadvertently go behind the scenes to areas the character isn't supposed to see. Even the cold, white, antiseptic and sterile design of Aperture Labs is present in this weird cube world. It's one thing to be inspired by other material, but in this case it's downright unoriginal.

Q.U.B.E. may feel derivative, but it does have its own take on puzzles. These are entirely made up of block dilemmas; some involve assembling a chain reaction or simply manipulating the box environment to form a vague path. The hero can control four colors and switches, which are color-coded in this otherwise stark white landscape. Red means that the box can extend three times, yellow indicates a set of boxes that can form a stair-like arrangement, blue boxes act as springboards, and green boxes are not directly moveable and must be manipulated using the environment. Other mechanics come into play later, such as light-based puzzles, color-changing balls and slopes, magnets, and rotating wall switches, but generally these color-based mechanics are front and centre. For the most part these puzzles are well-designed, and some pose a legitimate challenge and will get people scratching their noggin. The Director's Cut also introduces some new puzzles over the original, which are well-hidden behind holographic walls. While the effort is generous, it's disappointing that the focus on minimalism also leads to there being no substantial reward for completion.

Screenshot for Q.U.B.E. Director's Cut on Xbox One

There are some bugs with the physics engine, which can make a puzzle impossible to solve at times and will require a reload. These issues usually involve the magnetic puzzles, which can sometimes break the game and result in boxes becoming unresponsive to the laws of magnetism. Thankfully the checkpoints are fairly liberal, but it's pretty embarrassing for a physics-based puzzle title (which has very controlled and stiff physics to begin with) to suddenly choke up on its coding and force users to reload. This happened a few times during the campaign's short play time (about five hours), but what was truly the most grating aspect was the ambient soundtrack, which can be best described as a low electrical hum that can cause headaches during more contemplative moments when a puzzle needs solving.

Puzzle adventures like this tend to have diminishing returns in regards to repeated playthroughs, since these puzzles are so rigidly designed and only have one solution, and replaying this one tends to be boring and tedious at parts. The story-driven sections specifically tend to be annoying because they play out in real-time, and there's no way to skip a long empty hallway or slow elevator ride while a disembodied voice talks to the hero about his wife. Overall, it's not going to match the unbelievable phenomenon of the Portal series, but it is a worthy purchase and does have some interesting puzzles that will get people thinking. For its suggested price, Q.U.B.E. Director's Cut is fair and easily recommended to anyone who enjoys a solid first-person puzzler.

Screenshot for Q.U.B.E. Director's Cut on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Toxic Games' influences are clear, and in a way Q.U.B.E. Director's Cut can be seen as a weird expansion to Portal, if eyes are squinting. A little glitchy at times, and not the most fulfilling puzzle adventure, but fairly solid and it does have fleeting moments of originality. One thing missing that was a key component to the success of Portal is charm and wit; this game can be very dull because of how sterile and desolate the setting is and how dry the story can be. There's not much in terms of levity or heart, making it ultimately feel forgettable.

Developer

Toxic

Publisher

Grip Games

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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