The first Q.U.B.E. game arrived on PC back in 2011. This was then enhanced as Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut in 2015 for PS4 and Xbox One. The Director’s Cut added a proper story around the puzzles and greatly improved the game.
The sequel, Q.U.B.E. 2, is set some time after the first game. This time around you play as an archaeologist called Amelia Cross. At the beginning of the game you find yourself confused and stranded in some kind of alien desert. After succumbing to the elements you awaken inside a bizarre alien environment.
Soon you are contacted on your communication device by fellow survivor, Commander Emma Sutcliffe. She wants to help you escape and tries to guide you towards a beacon. Getting there though isn’t so straightforward. The alien environment is a series of connected puzzle rooms that you must solve in order to progress.
View the Q.U.B.E. 2 launch trailer below:
Your suit has a built-in ability to manipulate the environment with its special gloves. Any white cube you come across that has a black and yellow border can be manipulated. Initially you only have one power that allows you to turn a white cube blue. Doing so makes the cube into a jump-pad allowing you to reach higher areas or propel yourself across a room.
As you progress you earn abilities to manipulate red and green cubes too. Red cubes can be pulled out to create platforms or columns. Green cubes allow you to spawn your own green cube that you might use to help climb a ledge or hold a pressure switch. Q.U.B.E. 2 features over 80 puzzles set across 11 chapters. Initially these are very simple and only require you to use one of your abilities. As you push forward puzzles gradually become more complicated and require several of your powers to overcome them.
The game does a good job of letting you learn how to use each power. Each new puzzle steps up the difficulty a little more than the last. The first half of the game is a breeze and shouldn’t trouble most players. However the difficulty keeps increasing and the second half is definitely more challenging.
Each time you beat a puzzle it’s incredibly satisfying. This is especially true of the more difficult puzzles later on. At times working out what is required can be tricky but with some patience and plenty of trial and error most players should get through without too much trouble.
Although more difficult, the later puzzles are easily the best parts of the game. In addition to your powers, the game constantly adds plenty of new elements. These include, pressure switches, rotation and move buttons, fans, oil sprays, flames and spheres. The solutions to the more complex puzzles will have you scratching your head as you try to work them out. A more complex puzzle might have you directing a sphere so that it gets coated in oil before passing through fire to burn down a door.
The story itself is rather compelling and explores themes of trust, isolation and humanity. It keeps you guessing and gives you a reason to keep pushing forward. Much of the story is told through conversations between Amelia and Emma. These characters are exceptionally well voiced by Tamaryn Payne and Alix Dunmore. Similarly the haunting soundtrack by David Housden provides the perfect backdrop.
Graphically the game is incredibly pretty to look at and so much more polished than the original. Things are much more colourful this time around. The level design is also very well done and the environment cleverly guides you without you really needing to think about where to go next.
The game is very linear and you’re only real choice is to sometimes tackle puzzles in your preferred order. Most of the time though the next puzzle is gated until you beat the current one. Also some of the sections do feel a little repetitive which is an issue in games of this length.
A first playthrough of Q.U.B.E. 2 is going to take most players less than 6 hours. This felt like a decent length for the game. When you’ve completed it once, you’ll probably want to go through it a second time to experience the alternate ending. Sadly with the game being so linear there’s little other reason to go back to it once you’re done. A time-trial mode, like in its predecessor, would have been a great addition. There is a season pass available that adds more puzzles, the soundtrack and a classic Q.U.B.E. glove skin.
View some Q.U.B.E. 2 screenshots in our gallery:
The achievements are easy to obtain and come thick and fast at the beginning. If you want to get them all though you need to play the game through twice. It might have been nice to see a couple of them being more difficult to unlock.
As with many physics based games, occasionally things don’t always work as intended. For example, a cube might fall off a ledge by accident. Or you think you’ve solved a puzzle but it doesn’t work first time around. None of these are game-breaking though and they didn’t spoil the enjoyment of the game.
Q.U.B.E. 2 is a worthy successor to Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut. While it brings more of the same, it manages to do pretty much everything better than the original. If you enjoyed Q.U.B.E. or love puzzle games like Portal then you’ll definitely want to add Q.U.B.E. 2 to your collection.
Q.U.B.E. 2 was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: Trapped Nerve Games Developer: Toxic Games Release Date: March 13, 2018 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: PS4, PC