Reviewed by Josh Brant
Developed By: Toxic Games
Published By: TrappedNerveGames
Category: Puzzle, Adventure
Release Date: February 21, 2019
First off, one must understand the meaning of the acronym Q.U.B.E. in order to fully understand what you’ll being doing. Q.U.B.E. stands for Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion, which accurately describes the puzzles you’ll encounter throughout the title. By developer Toxic Games, Q.U.B.E. 2 is the sequel to the first-person puzzle title Q.U.B.E, which was release back in 2015 and a game that I enjoyed, even though it has not come to the Nintendo Switch yet. Fortunately, Q.U.B.E. 2 rectifies many of the problems from the original title and is a much better game in almost every facet.
In Q.U.B.E 2 you play as Amelia, a stranded archeologist who is mysteriously awoken among the sand swept ruins of an ancient alien landscape. Together with the distant help of another survivor, Commander Emma, you have to traverse and manipulate the structure of this forgotten world in order to return home. The story revolves around Amelia waking up with no recollection of what’s going on and she is wearing a strange suit with gloves that can manipulate tiles to form cubes and this is basically the only way you can solve the puzzles.
One thing you will notice immediately is the similarities to Portal and Portal 2, as you solve puzzles in these test chambers with your goal being to find the exit and continue on. In these rooms are sets of puzzles that you have to figure out, starting off simple teaching you the basics, but quickly amps up in difficulty. Although there’s a lot of new items to get used to in comparison to the game’s first outing, they are spread equally across the six hour campaign and are easily picked up and learned.
The sound and visuals for Q.U.B.E. 2 are excellently polished and are appropriate for the world. The visuals are bright and clear and do a great job of highlighting the areas of the room that are designed to be interacted with. The sound consists of mainly ambience but is excellently integrated to create a very lonely atmosphere especially when you enter some of the larger puzzle areas.
You have three basic types of colored cubes you can create. One being blue which allows you bounce yourself and other cubes across a room or up on high ledges. You can turn a tile red and this allows you to pull it out and act as a ledge or a blocking mechanism. Finally, you can turn a tile green which will actually spawn a physical cube that can be moved by certain means. With these simplistic ways of creating cubes, they become the basic mechanics for solving much more complicated puzzles further in Q.U.B.E. 2.
This may sound boring at first, however, it’s anything but. The fun with the puzzle solving comes from the complexities that occur in the environment and each new area you travel to. For example, you’ll come across huge fans that you can use for propelling yourself or other objects across great expanses. You’ll also come across pressure sensitive switches that you must figure out how to get a cube or yourself to land on in order to solve the puzzle. Also, you will have to use your cubes to guide metal balls through certain environmental hazards to knock down walls. These different scenarios really make the gameplay in Q.U.B.E. 2 shine.
The story takes about seven hours to complete and is straightforward with my only big complaint being the plot. The overarching narrative is intriguing and the environments are a marvel to behold and the dialogue between Amelia and Emma are performed well, but the way Amelia goes about solving these puzzles in somewhat lackluster. Each section of the structure requires power to be turned back on and it’s this continuous rinse-and-repeat formula that wears thin and repetitive.
To Q.U.B.E. 2’s credit though, the actual puzzles made me want to continue on despite the boring progression of turning on power in each room. Each new element that comes into play is better and requires more thought to figure out than the last, and it’s the general progression of the puzzle solving that is a major highlight. Upon completing the story, there are two endings you can choose from which are rather binary in nature and have no bearing on any situations that occurred while playing through the puzzles.
My only major gripe came from some of the technical issues that were present. While this may be the product of a hardware downgrade in the form of the Switch, it wasn’t enough to hinder my overall enjoyment of the title. There was one bug though, that had me stuck in one of the main areas without advancing the story. All I had to do was reload my save and there was no problem, but it should be stated regardless.
Overall, while Q.U.B.E. 2 may not be in the same league as Portal and The Witness in terms of the puzzle genre, this is still a great title that offers up many mind-bending puzzles to solve. It looks fantastic and is a huge step up from the original title in every way possible. While Q.U.B.E. 2 may falter in the way you progress in through the story, it’s definitely a game no puzzle enthusiast should miss.