One of my favorite video game franchises of all time is the Portal series. As a big fan of puzzle games, the Portal games were basically masterpieces for the genre. As Valve seems unwilling to ever make Portal 3, indie games have tried to fill in the gap. There have a been a lot of indie games that have tried to recreate Portal over the years. One of the more successful was Q.U.B.E. which was released a decade ago. While it was a game that I had heard of and wanted to play, I never got to checking it out. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary was released today bringing updated visuals and new content to the decade old game. Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary is a fantastic puzzle game that anyone at all interested in these type of puzzle games should really check out.
For the most part Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary is basically exactly what you would expect it to be. The game is to its very core a puzzle game. Your goal is basically to move from room to room in order to continue your journey. Standing in your way is a number of puzzles that you need to solve to clear your way to the next door and puzzle.
The puzzles of Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary are built around your gloves. Each level has a number of different elements that you can interact with. As the title implies, this mostly involves different types of cubes. As you proceed in the game you encounter more types of cubes which do different things when you interact with them. For example you can change the size of one by interacting with it. Another launches you or other objects when you touch it. Later in the game you even get the ability to manipulate the position of these different types of cubes.
The ultimate goal of each puzzle is to figure out how to manipulate the cubes in order to find a way to make it to the door and reach the next puzzle. Scattered around many of the puzzles are additional collectibles that you can only acquire if you figure out a unique way to manipulate the blocks to make a path for yourself.
I would say at least 90% of the gameplay is built around the puzzles. If you can’t figure out how to manipulate the cubes in the right way, you have no chance of solving the puzzles. There are a couple other elements that sometimes come into play as well. There are puzzles that require a decent amount of timing in order to be successful. You need to perform actions in a certain order with somewhat precise timing in order to complete the puzzle. Some puzzles also require some platforming as you have to jump between cubes to reach the next door. Neither of these are a huge component of the game.
With Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary relying so heavily on its puzzle mechanics, for the game to be successful the puzzle design had to be really good. The good news is that is probably the game’s greatest strength. Over the years I have played quite a few Portal style indie games. Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary is one of if not the best indie game that I have ever played that has tried to emulate Portal. While there are obvious differences between the two games, it is hard not be be reminded of Portal while playing Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary.
I think the puzzle design for the game works for a couple of reasons. The first is that the game does a great job introducing new mechanics. Each time a new mechanic is introduced, you play a couple of introductory puzzles to show you how to utilize it. The game then adds it to the rest of the mechanics to create more advanced puzzles.
This is the other reason why the puzzles work so well. The various abilities you acquire throughout the game may seem a little basic at first. The puzzles excel though because of how the game uses them together. While the game reuses general concepts throughout the game, each puzzle feels unique because you need to manipulate the cubes in different ways in order to solve puzzles. Some of the puzzles require you to really think outside of the box in order to think of new ways to use the different types of cubes.
These two elements are combined with an almost perfect difficulty level. The difficulty of the puzzles can range from pretty easy to pretty hard at times. The introductory puzzles for new mechanics and a few other puzzles are quite easy where I figured out the catch rather quickly. There are other puzzles that made me really think before I figured out the trick to solving them.
A large majority of the puzzles are the exact right difficulty though. The puzzles are challenging enough where it takes some time to figure them out. They rarely become frustrating though where you can’t figure out how to solve them. This difficulty blend does a good job creating a satisfying puzzle experience while also avoiding the frustration. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you solve a particularly challenging puzzle.
On top of the great puzzle design, the game’s controls are quite good as well. The jumping/platforming is not the most fluid. This is not a big element of the game though. Everything else about the controls are almost perfect though. The controls are responsive and they are straight to the point. Instead of having to worry about the controls, you can just focus on trying to solve the puzzles.
Probably the biggest “issue” with Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary is the story. This isn’t to say that the game’s story is bad. I thought it was solid. It is a puzzle game though, and thus the story doesn’t play a big role in the game. I was curious to see how the story would end, but I wouldn’t say that the story was a main reason to play Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary.
Lets move onto how Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary differs from the original Q.U.B.E. and the Director’s Cut. The game actually features both of those games. Before starting up the game you actually choose which of the two versions of the game that you would like to play. While the games seem to be mostly the same as the originals, there have been some changes. The 10th Anniversary seems to have tweaked some of the puzzles, and there are new puzzles as well.
Probably the mostly noticeable difference when you first look at the game is the graphics. After briefly watching some playthroughs of the previous two games, Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary looks like a completely different game. You can easily tell that the visuals have been completely rebuilt from scratch. The game is a puzzle game so it might not be as graphically appealing as other genres, but the game still looks really nice. The game’s graphics are basically the best you can expect from this type of game.
The biggest addition to Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary though is an entire new chapter. After you complete the main game, you unlock Sector 8. Sector 8 is considerably larger than the individual sectors in the main game. After a couple brief introductory levels used to teach you some new mechanics, you are set free in a large chamber. Inside this large chamber is a bunch of puzzles that you need to solve. Solving these puzzles earn you points which you can then use to unlock new cubes in the main chamber.
As Sector 8 only unlocks after you have completed the main game, it is not surprising that these are some of the most challenging puzzles in the entire game. Some are still easier than others, but some are quite challenging. In fact I haven’t solved some of the puzzles of Sector 8 yet.
The puzzles in Sector 8 are probably some of the best puzzles in the entire game. I think a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that they build on everything you learned throughout the rest of the game. The puzzles rely a lot on using all of the different mechanics together in new interesting ways. To solve some of them you need to really think outside of the box. Fans of the original game should really appreciate these new puzzles as they really force you to think about what you need to do in order to succeed.
Like with all puzzle games, the length of Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary is going to mostly depend on how fast you solve the puzzles. It will also depend on how much effort you put into picking up the collectibles. Because of these two factors I can only give you a broad estimate for the length. I would guess it would take most players between 4-6 hours to beat the original game. Meanwhile Sector 8 will likely add another 4-6 hours. For a puzzle game, that is a pretty good length.
Released around 10 years ago Q.U.B.E. was one of the first big indie Portal inspired puzzle games. Having never played the game until now, I have to say that it holds up really well ten years later in Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary. The game is for the most part your typical puzzle game, but that is fine as it does a great job at it. While the game has quite a few differences, playing it reminded me a lot of the Portal franchise. The gameplay is simple, but the puzzles are designed in such a way that each puzzle is really clever. The game finds the right difficulty balance where you are challenged enough to feel a sense of satisfaction while also avoiding frustration. The 10th Anniversary improves upon the original game with better visuals and a large Sector 8 which is significantly larger than I expected.
My recommendation for Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary is quite simple. If you aren’t a fan of puzzle games, in particular games like Portal, the game is not going to be for you. Fans of puzzle games (Portal in particular) will likely love Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary and should seriously consider picking it up.
Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary
Release Date: September 13th, 2022 | Systems: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Developer: Toxic Games | Publisher: Toxic Games | ESRB Rating: Everyone
Genres: Indie, Platformer, Puzzle
Official Website: https://www.toxicgames.co.uk/
- Great puzzle design blending simple mechanics into fun and satisfying puzzles.
- Includes quite a bit more content and a nice graphical overhaul of the original game.
- The story is solid, but nothing particularly special.
- Likely won’t appeal to people that don’t really care for the puzzle game genre.
Recommendation: For fans of a good puzzle game especially those who are fans of the Portal series.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Toxic Games for the review copy of Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.