How many times can you re-release a game before there really is no point anymore? Apparently, two is that sweet number as Q.U.B.E., the Welsh first-person puzzle game, is now on its second re-release. First, there was the Director’s cut in 2014, and then came a sequel in 2018. This time, the game has been redesigned from the ground up with a new graphical engine… so, does that mean you should buy it again? Let’s take a look at our Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary review.
The story does very much remind one of the similarly titled Cube, the 90s horror movie by Vincenzo Natali: our protagonist wakes up in a strange cubic environment with no idea how he got there. But then it quickly goes sci-fi, rather than horror, since we will get informed we are on a mission to save Earth, even though the events will make us doubt that things are indeed that “simple”. While the story is fine, it all takes place through voiceovers (which were a feature originally added in the Director’s Cut version), so one would be hard-pressed to define it as the big reason to play it.
Hence, the true meat of Q.U.B.E. lies in its puzzles, as every room we will explore introduces some new mechanics. We will simply be interacting directly with pieces of cubes (and other shapes), with the simple objective of opening the door to the next room. What starts as simply putting one cube above the other to make that difficult jump, Tomb Raider-style, will soon become quite more difficult and complicated, with magnets, levers and colors to combine. But, since it’s not a long game anyway, there are no impossible puzzles.
If you are reminded of The Witness, then you’re on the right path, even though Q.U.B.E. is not that varied and once a stage has begun, you’re just stuck solving the room you are in, there is no possibility to wander around to refresh your mind, so to speak. This might end up being a slight problem on some of the more frustrating puzzles, but it’s not a huge issue. Q.U.B.E. is also quite a short game (the original was about 3 hours), so the anniversary edition adds an entirely new chapter, stretching the experience to around 6-7 hours.
The new graphical engine seems pretty solid, along with now supporting ray tracing, it also adds a lot of color to what were the formerly sterile rooms of Q.U.B.E. Now, clearly, this is a matter of artistic preference. Still, personally, I think the original all-white environments made for a much more foreboding and sci-fi atmosphere. Now the game just looks more like other games, while before it really had an original style. But, on the bright side, the new colorful rooms are easier on the eyes and do tend to get less boring.
The main issue with this remaster is that to accommodate the new graphical engine, some puzzles have been modified and others have been done away with entirely. Even if you select the Director’s Cut experience, that changes little, as the two versions still share the very same engine, so some of the original puzzles would still be gone forever. The differences between the Director’s Cut and the ordinary version are simply all about the soundtrack and narration.
Now, this might not be a huge problem if you’re new to the Q.U.B.E. experience, as the new game actually eases players progressively into more difficult puzzles, but it does make for quite the unwelcoming change for old players. Especially because they are being asked to shell more money for a game that, you would think, they already own, at least once (if not twice…). The difference in price is also something to note, as the Director’s Cut goes for full price, while the anniversary is more than twice that amount.
Overall, the 10th-anniversary release of Q.U.B.E. is a fine, if slightly superfluous, update of an interesting little indie classic from 2012. If you are a fan of the first-person puzzle genre and let’s be honest it is not a genre with hundreds of releases each year, then you should definitely take a look at Q.U.B.E.
Our Q.U.B.E. 10th-anniversary edition was made possible with a key provided by the publisher. Q.U.B.E. 10th anniversary is available on Steam.
Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary edition: The original Q.U.B.E. from 2012 gets updated again with a new graphical engine and an entirely new chapter. It is a good entry point for newcomers, but the edition comes with a few issues which might end up be a problem for old fans. – Damiano