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ZephonTsol

OverCrit - Q.U.B.E (PC)

I kind of feel a bit sad because this game is limited by one very slight flaw, but I really want to talk about it anyways and it's been a bit since the last one we talked about!

Q.U.B.E ((I'm just going to take the periods out from now on, kthnx)) is arguably a spiritual successor to the glory of the original Portal, a game that heralded building learning on intuitive thinking on how to overcome the obstacles given to you, the player, with the tool you've got. Created by Toxic Games using the ubiquitous Unreal Engine, Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion offers a very simple premise and some stellar design decisions to quickly immerse and push you into the game. The object? Use your Qube Gloves to manipulate different colored blocks in varied ways to proceed through the sectors.

Graphical Presentation:

QUBE is...well, largely colorless. The white walls of the interior are pretty much just that (and varying shades of grey) and the majority of the color comes from the manipulable blocks. Each sticks out and draws your attention, so there's very little to be confused about. What IS well done here is the way the environment morphs and flows around you. The entire play area is made of blocks that seem to shift, undulate, and contract as you move. The best parallel I could draw would be the reassembling walls from Portal 2, but that really doesn't do it much justice. It makes for a sterility in your environment that lends to the mystery of the story of why you're there in the first place and what is really going on.

All told, the graphics are superb and aside from a little bit of weird glitching at the very bottom of my screen ((though I'm not too sure what it was and why it was happening, therefore I'm not really going to lay fault on the game)), everything looked real and was easy to interact with. On my rig, I had about half the options turned on and was able to easily enjoy it thanks to the Unreal Engine's tuning.

Sound Presentation:

Not a lot to speak of here. The soundtrack behind your movements isn't as huge a part as would be evident, but the underlying drive with it is technical enough to make you wonder where you are. It gives a...well, lab rat feel to the whole game, testing and moving about for an unseen purpose. It's equal parts creepy and moving and very well done. SFX are also on par. Each style of block makes it's own particular noise when activated and brings you more into the immersion overall.

There is no voice acting, however, but I'm not upset by that really. The story to the game is one that doesn't need voice acting or a major story. ((Indeed, I had more fun trying to guess and make my own story up as I went. The ending settled it, sure, but I was still enjoying finding out for myself and making my guesses)) It benefits from this play-style and allows the game to be quite a bit less humongous than Portal because sound clips can chew quite a bit of memory on a game disc.

Controls:


There's not a lot to speak of here, either. You've got two gloves (controlled by Mouse1 and Mouse2) as well as mouse-look, Spacebar to jump, and WASD to move. That's really it. It fits in well with the minimalistic nature of this game that you don't need to make things overblown or needlessly intrinsic. Keeping it simple works very well and lent me to jumping in and picking everything up pretty effortlessly. QUBE seems to want you to do that; pick it up, get the premise and controls instantly, and then, when you're comfy, it starts throwing puzzles your way.

Gameplay/Replayability:

The gameplay is, as previously mentioned, built to be wholly intuitive. There are NO tutorials in this game, merely your own willingness to experiment and to understand the nature of the gloves you are wearing. Nothing tells you how each color block works. QUBE demands that you figure it out on your own and, aside from one outstandingly devilish puzzle near the end of the game, most of the puzzles are easy enough to get the idea for. It's all very well done and with the threat of death non-existent, you're not punished in anyway at all for taking risks or for experimenting. It's compelling beyond belief and I easily lost myself in the hours I played on it.

However, therein lies the one downside to the game: it's criminally short. Coming in at just about four hours of gameplay for me ((being of average intellect and skill of control)), it's a much shorter game than you'd imagine. That being said, what it accomplishes in those four hours is why I've called this game the spiritual successor to Portal. It's quick, deceptively difficult in places, doesn't overstay its welcome, and leaves you feeling quite satisfied upon completion. Replay is sheerly at your behest as there's no online leaderboards or any other ranking system, but since Toxic has hinted at some DLC later this year, it might be worth a visit again.

Overall Opinion:

I really can't say enough good about this game. It's got a lovely minimalism in an industry that has been inundated recently with games that are trying to be the bestest best at graphics fidelity and overblown story and online multiplayer and so on. QUBE looks at all of that and throws it to the side, preferring to give you a lovely brain-bender that'll waste a few hours of your life as you play and enjoy the visuals that are simple and elegant. Bright colors pop at you, you hear things, you feel things, and you find yourself looking at your environment in a critical manner.

In short, it succeeds at what it set out to do and that earns it my seal of approval. It doesn't try to be the best or better than Portal or Modern Warfare or any other FPS style game. It doesn't need to. It just gives you a wholly contained story and gameplay style that is about as new as any I've seen. Especially in an industry that has been showing signs of stale, copycat games. If it took cues from Portal, a genre-redefiner itself, then it did a good job and a LOT of praise should be thrown towards the three guys who built it.

Yeah. Three. Portal 2 had the immense Valve team working on it. QUBE had three guys at the head and a small team under them. Learn from this, Valve. Please. We're still waiting for Half-life Ep 3...it's not all THAT hard to make...is it?

Suffice to say, at only $15 dollars on Steam, QUBE is firmly set as a Must-Buy in my book. Toxic should be encouraged to make more games, given the support they need. This is quality stuff and while it may be a bit too simple for most who like ramming F-14s up one another's ass, that's okay. Sometimes, being simple is very very effective and very very satisfying.

OverCrit, Fin.
Viewed: 12 times
Added: 6 years, 9 months ago
 
AlexReynard
6 years, 9 months ago
>The entire play area is made of blocks that seem to shift, undulate, and contract as you move.

Oh! Like the fake vomit scene in Toys!!

>There are NO tutorials in this game, merely your own willingness to experiment and to understand the nature of the gloves you are wearing.

You are making me want to play this. It's interesting though that what you just said is the exact reason I gave Relee when she was showing me some game and I said I *didn't* want to play it. I do like to explore in a game. A big part of the fun in playing Quake or Duke Nukem was nosing around and finding secrets. But then you have 'adventure' games, where from what I've seen, the player ends up frantically clicking every possible item in their environment to try to figure out rage-inducingly unintuitive puzzles. Yet I don't mind that in Portal. I guess the difference comes down to the competence of the game makers. Are the puzzles intuitive, or are the creators showing off how clever they are by making them impossible, OR are the creators just dolts. From what you've said about QUBE, it sounds like these guys know what they're doing.

>It's quick, deceptively difficult in places, doesn't overstay its welcome, and leaves you feeling quite satisfied upon completion.

Reminds me of the Sequelitis guy comparing Castlevania to a fancy dessert.

>It's got a lovely minimalism in an industry that has been inundated recently with games that are trying to be the bestest best at graphics fidelity and overblown story and online multiplayer and so on.

Ya know what one of the things was that convinced me to try Bioshock? That it was a finite, single-player game. Sure, it could have been trimmed a bit, but it wasn't trying to be a kazillion things.

>Learn from this, Valve. Please. We're still waiting for Half-life Ep 3...it's not all THAT hard to make...is it?

How many years did Duke Nukem Forever take to come out? ...And how many years have we been waiting on HL3?

>Suffice to say, at only $15 dollars on Steam, QUBE is firmly set as a Must-Buy in my book.

I have been giving serious thought to getting Steam. I'm pretty sure this new 'puter can handle it. I'm not ready right now, since I'm still getting a feel for the thing, and plus I'm reluctant to give myself something that will waste even more of my time. But QUBE sounds like it'd be a good thing to start with. Four hours ain't bad for a game. If that's a good experience (in terms of me liking it and the software working), I may finally dip my foot into TF2.
Alfador
6 years, 9 months ago
" AlexReynard wrote:
>The entire play area is made of blocks that seem to shift, undulate, and contract as you move.

Oh! Like the fake vomit scene in Toys!!


From what I saw of Zephie playing, it's quite a bit more fluid than that, but exactly as creepy. >:3

" AlexReynard wrote:
Ya know what one of the things was that convinced me to try Bioshock? That it was a finite, single-player game. Sure, it could have been trimmed a bit, but it wasn't trying to be a kazillion things.


Ooh, careful with that rule of thumb. Skyrim is finite and single-player, but it's gargantuan. I've been playing tons of it nearly every day since Christmas, and I've still not finished any of the main large questlines, and barely scratched the surface of the sidequests.

Though to be fair, I spent a fair amount of that time grinding up crafting professions and getting a feel for the perk system, only to realize I'd shot myself in the foot with a build that was a jack of all trades, master of none, and you need to be a master of at least SOMETHING combat-related to survive... so I restarted and now I'm playing a cat man whose name is "MEOW" in all caps pronounced as a metal scream, whose solution to just about any problem is to punch things until they stop moving (with a Heavy Armor perk that adds the armor value of my gauntlets to all unarmed damage). I gave my dwarven armor set to my housecarl after I upgraded to the Blades set (samurai armor) from Skyhaven Temple, and now it looks like I have a golden robot standing by my doorway.

Also, if at any point in the future you do decide to give Skyrim a try, I recommend the "SkyUI" inventory mod to make item management non-painful, and the "glowing ores" mod so you can actually find ore veins instead of passing 90% of them by unseen.

" AlexReynard wrote:
How many years did Duke Nukem Forever take to come out? ...And how many years have we been waiting on HL3?


HL2:e2 came out October 10, 2007 along with the rest of the Orange Box. Counting from HL2's release, we go back to November 16, 2004. Duke Nukem Forever was first announced in April 1997 and came out in June of 2011. So even if we count the wait for HL3 from the release of HL2 rather than the last episode release, it's still got a ways to go before it reaches Duke Nukem Forever's standard of vaporware.

" AlexReynard wrote:
I have been giving serious thought to getting Steam. I'm pretty sure this new 'puter can handle it. I'm not ready right now, since I'm still getting a feel for the thing, and plus I'm reluctant to give myself something that will waste even more of my time. But QUBE sounds like it'd be a good thing to start with. Four hours ain't bad for a game. If that's a good experience (in terms of me liking it and the software working), I may finally dip my foot into TF2.


Zephie and I were talking on the way back from dinner tonight, and he mentioned QUBE isn't ported to Mac yet. According to the Wikipedia article, while he is currently correct, they HAVE announced that a Mac OS version WILL be released sometime soon (first quarter of 2012). So yay!
AlexReynard
6 years, 9 months ago
>From what I saw of Zephie playing, it's quite a bit more fluid than that, but exactly as creepy. >:3

Oh, neat! ...and I'm glad I'm not the only one who's seen that movie. ;)

>Ooh, careful with that rule of thumb. Skyrim is finite and single-player, but it's gargantuan. I've been playing tons of it nearly every day since Christmas, and I've still not finished any of the main large questlines, and barely scratched the surface of the sidequests.

Eeeyah. I never even suspected Skyrim of being a single story. I just assumed from the looks of it it was one of those big multiplayer thingywhats.

>so I restarted and now I'm playing a cat man whose name is "MEOW" in all caps pronounced as a metal scream

LMAO!

>Also, if at any point in the future you do decide to give Skyrim a try, I recommend the "SkyUI" inventory mod to make item management non-painful, and the "glowing ores" mod so you can actually find ore veins instead of passing 90% of them by unseen.

I do not think I will be trying Skyrim. Remember, I'm not someone who likes to spend aeons on a game. HL2 was about as long as I want to spend on a single-player ever, and even that one, much as I loved it, dragged in a couple places (the highway bits and Nova Prospekt, personally).

>So even if we count the wait for HL3 from the release of HL2 rather than the last episode release, it's still got a ways to go before it reaches Duke Nukem Forever's standard of vaporware.

I just hope it's not stuck in the same loop: 'We're almost done! Oh, wait! There's this incredible new thing we totally gotta put in! That means we'll need to redesign everything. Whew, that was a lot of work! We're almost done! Oh, wait!!'

>Zephie and I were talking on the way back from dinner tonight, and he mentioned QUBE isn't ported to Mac yet. According to the Wikipedia article, while he is currently correct, they HAVE announced that a Mac OS version WILL be released sometime soon (first quarter of 2012). So yay!

That works out fine. By the time it becomes available, I'll be ready to try it out. :)
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