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Q.U.B.E. 2 and Binary Ending Choices

After how much I loved Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut, it was a foregone conclusion that I’d be playing Q.U.B.E. 2 - even though my favorite thing about Q:DC was the story and Q.U.B.E. 2 did not have the same writer. I expected to be disappointed, but had to give it a chance anyway.

When I played it, I was unsurprised to find that most aspects of the game are polished and improved over its predecessor, but the story is (unsurprisingly) worse. I wrote an overall review but I also want to talk about something it does structurally. It’s something a lot of games do, but Q.U.B.E. 2 serves as a sterling example of how badly it can go. I’ll avoid plot details, but structural spoilers follow.

Q.U.B.E. 2 is not a game about choices. It’s a game about manipulating cubes to solve physics puzzles. And then at the very end, you have to make a choice. In an unfortunate and presumably unintended echo of Mass Effect 3, you choose between the red ending and the blue ending. (It could almost function as an indictment of the way ME3’s final choice obliterated all choices before it, since here there are no choices before it and it still works the same way.)

Why do this in a game like Q.U.B.E. 2? This isn’t like inFAMOUS 2 where each ending is the natural culmination of its own story. There’s no “other way” to play the game a second time - there’s just the same puzzles you’ve already solved.

Making it worse is that the game seems designed to lock you in to an ending on a given playthrough. Once you’ve chosen your ending, seen your final cutscene, and watched the credits scroll by, you get put back to the main menu - without a “Continue” option. Or a “Chapter Select.” Q:DC had both of these, letting you jump right back in to the ending sequence or revisit any chapter of the game. But here you just have “New Game”, as though your save file had been deleted entirely. The game doesn’t seem to want you to be able to watch both endings without forcing a full replay of the same damn puzzles.

That might be reasonable if the endings were equally valid and just let you choose your own story a la Heavy Rain, but here one ending is unambiguously good and the other is unambiguously bad. The story as written doesn’t really justify either one - I was pretty confident which one was going to be the good ending but I wouldn’t fault someone who tried the other one first. The game sure would, though! It’d slap the player with a dark, unsatisfying ending and then demand they replay the entire game if they wanted to correct their lone “mistake” and see the better ending. (Thankfully, you can get around this by just backing up your save file right before making the final choice, but you have to know in advance that you need to do this.)

That’s bad enough, but here’s the cherry on top - there’s an achievement for getting each ending. So after going to all this trouble to lock you in to your chosen ending, the game itself still signals that you should see both of them!

This is even sillier on PlayStation, because they screwed it up. PlayStation games have a “platinum trophy” which is a sign of full completion - it’s not tied to a specific action like other trophies, but is instead awarded for getting all the other trophies on a particular game. Whoever picked the trophies for Q.U.B.E. 2 apparently didn’t get that memo, thought it was just a particularly valuable trophy, and tried to attach it to the good ending. So on PC and Xbox One the good and bad endings each have their own achievement, while on PS4 only the bad ending has a trophy. The platinum trophy’s description says it’s for the other ending, but that’s not how platinum trophies work. This does kind of give away which ending is the good one - and it also means that only the bad ending is required to fully completely the game!

Q.U.B.E. 2 is a solid first-person physics puzzler, but I wouldn’t recommend playing it for the story. It’s hard for me to imagine how the ending design could be any more player-hostile.