Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii U
We played on: Nintendo Wii U
Q.U.B.E. perfectly embodies my favorite type of puzzle game. It treats puzzle solving like a slow uphill ascent. It gradually introduces new elements while relying on your curiosity and critical-thinking skills to find solutions. It’s the type of game that offers satisfaction, not only from solving puzzles, but also from deducing what the rules were in the first place.
As an astronaut, you explore a strange, cube-like structure. Once inside, you’re greeted by a voice informing you that you’ve been unconscious for a long time. The voice says you need to explore this weird space anomaly in order to understand what it is and how to stop it from crashing into Earth.
Q.U.B.E is a lot like Valve Software’s action puzzler Portal. In that game, you solve puzzles using a teleportation device. In Q.U.B.E., you wander through chamber after chamber. Each of these chambers is connected. And each one contains unique puzzle challenges.
You solve these puzzles through the manipulation of blocks. Each block has a different action assigned to it and is identified using different colors. Using specially crafted gloves, you can make red blocks grow longer or shorter, depress blue blocks to jump off of them, manipulate green blocks to construct platforms, and direct columns of yellow blocks into the right order to open more pathways.
Puzzles are all about manipulating the environment to get the player toward the next chamber. Set against a sterile white background, these colored blocks stand out and provide important subconscious contextual clues that help you identify a necessary order of operations.
That’s the ingenious nature of Q.U.B.E. Failure is an important part of solving its puzzles. It encourages experimenting with ideas. It helps you narrow down solutions that might work until you find the right one. Crafting puzzles like these demands very deliberate, careful design. This attention to detail is evident in Q.U.B.E.
Still, it’s not a game for everyone. It’s slow and methodical. It may be a massive departure from what kids might normally be playing. But it’s a fantastic game for helping older kids develop strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills while simultaneously piquing their curiosity. The frustration of not getting an answer the first time around may be a turnoff for some young people. But Q.U.B.E. has the potential to be immensely rewarding to both the patient and the curious.