PAX West 2017: Q.U.B.E. 2

Monday, September 18th, 2017

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It’s not difficult to see the influence that Portal had on the games industry. It revealed a market for first-person puzzle games without combat, and spawned several similar games. One of these games was Q.U.B.E., where the player is able to place and interact with specially-colored cubes in the environment around them. It has a similar sterile test environment to Portal as well as its general visual style, and two years later a new version called Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut was released, which added a new, more in-depth story mode. Now there’s Q.U.B.E. 2, a sequel which builds upon the story of the original game.

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Core gameplay is quite straightforward: certain cubes in the environment can be assigned colors, which the player can then interact with for different effects that depend on the cube’s color. For example, orange cubes can be extended out of the surface, blue cubes serve as a springboard, and green cubes duplicate to create a loose cube that can be pushed or launched around. There will likely be others once the game is finished, but those were the ones available in the demo. There were also a few other elements in the demo, such as walls that could slide back and forth and doors that needed to be busted open with a launched cube.

Considering the general simplicity of the core gameplay, I was impressed by some of the puzzles I saw. They made good use of the various cubes and environmental elements at the player’s disposal, and I found them somewhat challenging despite the limited number of cubes and elements that were in play. There seems to be a good amount of ingenuity at play, but it remains to be seen how it holds up throughout the entire game, and what kind of extra elements and cube colors become available.

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The story is somewhat more serious than I was expecting, but there wasn’t a whole lot of it to be found in the demo. It’s somewhat similar to Portal 2‘s story, with the ruined facility and trying to escape.

Ultimately the game’s similarity to Portal somewhat works against it. Portal is perfectly-contained, with simple gameplay, ingenious puzzle design and some of the best dark humor in any game ever made. The obvious similarities between Q.U.B.E. 2 and Portal makes it hard to see the former as an independent entity. However, it’s clear that Q.U.B.E. 2 is a solid puzzle game in its own right, and I’m interested in seeing how it is when it releases sometime next year on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. Since then, he's owned every Nintendo console to be released. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles, Persona 4 Golden, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.