First-person puzzle games are a tough egg to crack. They have to be engaging, use the first-person mechanisms well, and make the player think (while not making a puzzle entirely impossible). Originally released in 2011, Q.U.B.E. (or, Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion) was a more fleshed out version of a student project by the founding members of Toxic Games. The game received average acclaim, with criticisms lodged against its lack of story and spike in difficulty towards the end of the game. Flash forward three years later and Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut has been released to fix said flaws. So, does Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut fix its predecessor’s mistakes while continuing to be a good first-person puzzle game? Let’s find out.
A narrative has been added to Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut in the form of non-interactive voice-overs told to the player between puzzles. The narrative was written by Rob Yescombe (Alien: Isolation, Crysis). In order to deliver the narrative, a number of elevators have been added between sectors and in other locations for the player to be delivered exposition over their headset. Several other cutscenes are also altered to better support the plot.
The narrative for Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut was pretty decent. The game’s not very long. I completed it in just over two hours. However, in that time Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut manages to tell an engaging story full of paranoia and intrigue.
Here’s a brief summary of the story. You wake up in a featureless room built of cubes, and are contacted over your suit radio by a woman who claims to be alone on the International Space Station, talking to them on behalf of mission control. She tells you that you are far from Earth on an alien structure that threatens the planet, and that your mission is to prevent that from occurring. Oh, you also have amnesia (a likely side-effect of the space travel). Things only get crazier from there. I won’t spoil everything, but alliances will be questioned as you begin to suspect not everything is as it seems.
So what are you doing in Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut? Well, you’ll be traveling room to room using your suit to manipulate the environment in specific ways. It’s pretty simple. L2 extends certain colored blocks while R2 retracts them. Each colored block behaves in a different way and more and more mechanics (and colors) are added throughout the game. Blue blocks make you (and other objects) bounce. Red blocks can be extended a number of times. Yellow blocks can be altered to achiever various heights, etc. I didn’t find the puzzles incredibly challenging, but in the final sector (there are seven total) there were some tough puzzles that really made me think. There were a few spots throughout the game where I found aiming the reticle at the exact block I wanted to manipulate challenging and it resulted in me messing a puzzle up.
Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut doesn’t do a whole lot to change up the puzzles from the original Q.U.B.E. While a lot of the puzzles remain unchanged, several of them are modified or rearranged (to make them easier) and a small number are removed entirely. One of the final sectors is shortened by the removal of the most difficult puzzles. They have also tweaked the gravity and wire sections of the game.
Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut is a solid (albeit plain) looking game. However, the graphical features have been improved over its predecessor. Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut also features a new, original score. I found the score to be quite enjoyable and it never got overtly repetitive while I was continuously retrying a puzzle sector.
Also included in Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut is the addition of the Against the Qlock DLC, which adds timed challenges and online leaderboard tracking to the game. The puzzles which are included within this additional mode are a little different from the populate the campaign. The Against the Qlock puzzles require power-ups to be collected in order for players to shave off precious seconds of completion time. While it’s a novel addition to the Q.U.B.E experience, these extra levels don’t feel quite as well constructed as those seen in the main game. However, this mode does succeed in providing a few extra hours of gameplay after players have completed the main campaign.
If you’re in the market for a smart, precise, first-person puzzle game, you can’t go wrong with Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut. The game’s not incredibly long, but the package you’re getting for $9.99 is worth it. The story’s intriguing, the puzzles are well designed, and the inclusion of the Against the Qlock mode will have players trying to best one another. I enjoyed my time with Q.U.B.E. The Director’s Cut, and I think you will too.