Q.U.B.E. 2 – The Switch Island Review
Q.U.B.E. 2 is a first-person puzzle platformer, comprised of escape rooms which require lateral thinking and physics-based manipulation to solve. As such, comparisons to Portal are inevitable, but these rooms also call to mind some of the more taxing shrines from Breath of The Wild. Much like our beloved Link in that very game, our female protagonist wakes up devoid of memory and spends the rest of the game picking up fragments of the story via radio communication with a lady who seems to know more than she lets on. The narrative is sufficiently intriguing to not feel tacked-on and used sparingly enough to never encroach upon the real star here; the puzzles.
To solve these conundrums you’ll need to make use of a pair of gloves which can change the colour of blank tiles, with each colour bestowing those tiles with particular attributes – turn them blue, for example and they’ll become capable of launching you and/or other blocks high into the air. Your objective is always clear and the lack of any enemies allows you to take things at your on pace and enjoy the new mechanics as and when they’re introduced.
Q.U.B.E. 2 is a joy to play, despite the common first-person pitfalls of cumbersome character movement and a slightly fiddly aiming reticle. Once you’ve got to grips with the controls and how to manipulate blocks, you’ll find yourself being able to assess the layout of a room and execute the solution with a few deft taps of the shoulder buttons. You’ll feel like a genius at this point, but don’t send off your Mensa application just yet – some of the tricker brain teasers will leave you randomly summoning and dismissing blocks in sheer desperation, but these examples are all the more rewarding when you crack them.
The futuristic setting of Q.U.B.E. 2 lends itself to minimalism, and the clinical sparseness of the rooms does a fine job of making the environment feel other-worldly. Later levels thankfully introduce more colour, texture and organic matter to prevent the setting from feeling stale. Performance-wise the game chugs a little when these elements are introduced, with the rendering of foliage proving particularly troublesome and resulting in some pretty severe pop-in.
The overall crispness of the presentation only makes these issues stand out more, and unfortunately they extend to one or two sound effects, most notably when using a blue “jump” tile, where the corresponding audio crackles with distortion. Despite this jarring example, the sound is generally unobtrusive, with subtle incidental music only fading in during important sequences. The lack of HD rumble feels like a missed trick, but it’s a testament to the gameplay that these rough edges don’t detract from what is ultimately a fun and challenging experience.
Those pesky Portal comparisons aside, Q.U.B.E. 2 is an excellent game in its own right and more than worth your time if you want to give your mental muscle a thorough workout.