March 13, 2018

Q.U.B.E. 2 - Review

When the original QUBE released, a lot of people took it for another me-too Portal clone, but apart from the first-person point of view, the games were completely different and now, with the sequel, that divide is even more apparent.

You awaken out in the middle of a sandstorm, with no clue as to how you got there, or where there is, but in the distance is a large structure and as you make your way towards it, you hear a voice message, from your husband, wishing you well and then you pass out. When you come to, another voice is talking to you, Emma and she asks your name, but as you give her your name, Amelia Cross, she asks for more details, but that is when you notice, you can’t give them, because you just don’t know them, not how you got there, where there is, what you were doing, nothing at all. Emma gives you some guidance on the suit you are wearing, and together you come up with a plan, head towards a beacon, but as you try, things get worse. The problem here is that the story has no stakes, sure you are unsure where you are and what’s going on, but there is no real consequence to anything, even the choice you make at the end. The limited interaction with other voices over the radio, is just that limited and even when Amelia gets upset, she forgives without issue almost right away.

Thankfully the gameplay is done very well, the game maintains the box moving and creating mechanics from the original game, still work. The very early puzzles, not talking about the very first few can be completed in a few moves, as they are more about you understanding how things work together. As you progress to the room that requires power, you will start to be thrown into the deep end with regards to new mechanics, the first up being magnetism and as you blend that into the use of the existing tool set, things can change up. As you progress though, more and more mechanics are introduced and at times, some puzzles do feel like they are asking a lot of you and depending on how well you can multitask, your millage here is going to be different to mine.

The biggest flaw with the game though, is that there is no explanation to anything, having played the first game, I knew what to expect for the most part, but as some newer elements were introduced, I was thinking some form of explanation on how something works, would not go astray. Mixing in sliding walls, oil, fire, balls and doors and trying to put it all together in the right order takes getting used to, the problem is, there are instructions on how any of those individual pieces work, so it is all a matter of trial by error.  Thankfully, there are no enemies or dangers around, so you can take your time and try as often as you like any solution, you can think of, even fall damage is non-existent, which is strange, given how they have mats in some rooms, as a target for you to land upon, when you fall.

The other issue that I have with the game is that its short, I beat it in under 5 hours and while I did not come into the game, expecting any form of 100-hour epic space adventure, I was thinking that it would be a least longer than the first game. The game leads you towards and ending, before taking a sharp turn and giving you more game, but than only adds another 2 hours at most to the experience and while I appreciate more, I hate the fake ending scenarios that games use.

From a presentation point of view, the game thankfully, looks good, there is a good mix of what we know from earth and what is easily identified as alien, with both looks merging together without looking to absurd. You never get to see the full model of Amelia, not even in any form of reflection, however you do see her face, whenever she is speaking, in the little box in the top left corner, this where you see all people speaking, or any recordings that play as well. The only visual issue I can really fault is that when nature and machine combine, it looks bad, grass that is meant to be growing through the ground, taking over parts of a room, just ends up sticking through the existing texture and while from a distance, it might look ok, get close and it just stands out. The score is decent, the music lent itself to create a suitably isolated atmosphere, even the later sections of the game had a feeling of isolation, even once the big story was unveiled.

Q.U.B.E. 2 is a good game, while it is light on characters and story, and what gameplay there is can be confusing at times, it is still a good game. If you have played the first one and want more, then you are going to enjoy it, but if you are coming to the series for the first time, by the time you understand how everything works together, the experience ends, which may level a sour taste in your mouth.

Review copy provided by Toxic Games

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