Capsule Review: Q.U.B.E: Director's Cut

(A note on versions - the original version of this game released in 2011 and was simply titled Q.U.B.E. In 2014, The Director’s Cut was released as the definitive version incorporating graphical and audio improvements, speedrun levels, and a story told through radio transmission voiceovers.)

A first-person puzzle game in which you manipulate designated cubes in the environment to create platforms, barriers, springboards, and more in order to solve a series of puzzle rooms in a stark, sterile, and modular-looking environment. More mechanics are introduced over time and the puzzles become more complex and allow for new applications.

The core mechanics are a little hard to pin down. Rather than having a clear and specific ability, your ability is essentially to point at a cube to trigger its ability, whatever that may be, so the actual actions you can perform depend completely on what cubes are present. The best puzzles have you figuring out how to put your tools together to accomplish a clear goal; the worst use the cubes as a poor UI for a largely-separate puzzle that doesn’t really engage with the game’s unique mechanics.

While the story is mostly disconnected from gameplay due to being delivered as voiceovers between puzzles, it’s surprisingly effective due to good writing, excellent performances, and clever use of the player character’s isolation and limited information to to create tension and suspense. It also leans into the fact that the game will remind many players of Portal - while it avoids any direct references, it can be read as a response to Portal and will have more impact on players who are familiar with it.

Q.U.B.E. is a solid first-person physics puzzler, but it’s really the story that makes it stand out from the crowd.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game. As the story affected me far more than the puzzles, I’ve thought about it a lot but I don’t expect to replay it and have no interest in the speedrun levels.

Docprof's Rating:

Four Stars: Great. Not only did I finish the game, I probably played through the whole thing again and/or completed any optional objectives. It's an easy recommendation for any genre fan.

You can get it or learn more here.