When Q.U.B.E was released back in 2011 it was done without much fanfare or praise. There were those that played and enjoyed the original game but it felt like a barren world with interesting puzzles and a bold art style but not much else. Many people likened it to Portal due to it’s physics-based puzzles, though such comparisons both sell the game short and hype it too much. Yes, some puzzles deal with physics and it is a first-person puzzle game like Portal. But Q.U.B.E has puzzles Portal doesn’t touch and the new Q.U.B.EDirector’s Cut adds a story that is nowhere near Portal’s cleverness and humor.
Let’s start with what’s different in Q.U.B.EDirector’s Cut. While the original version of the game had little to no story to speak of, the Director’s Cut adds in a fully voiced story told through brief moments of audio and lots of elevator rides. The new version also includes a new musical score, some new sound effects, added visuals like fire and sparks, and ten levels for speed run trials as well. All of this sounds great but how it fits into the core game is almost as important as the addition itself.
Q.U.B.E, which stands for Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion by the way, starts with an amnesiac waking up in a strange room made of cubes. After finding your way around the world it becomes apparent that each room you enter is a testing chamber of sorts. Q.U.B.E focuses around different types of blocks that behave differently depending on their color. Red blocks can be pulled out to different lengths, yellow blocks pull out in an ascending manor, blue blocks act as springs and so on. By using these blocks in different ways you send balls into their similarly-colored holes, find exits to rooms and generally progress through the game.
Controls in Q.U.B.E are fairly straightforward with typical FPS movement controls and each of the triggers being used to pull a block out or push it back in. I occasionally ran into times where the controls didn’t feel snappy enough to meet the requirements of a puzzle. This was especially annoying when I knew I had solved a puzzle, getting each block in its proper position, but couldn’t execute it fast enough due to slow head turning and blocks not responding to my controls because I was off by an inch. That tended to be my biggest gripe with the game. Puzzles in Q.U.B.E never felt too hard or unfair and I appreciated that.
In fact, some of the original version’s hardest puzzles have been removed, making the game far more accessible and less frustrating too. There were a handful of puzzles in the original version that I stared at for a while before even trying to solve them. In this version of the game, I felt brave enough to experiment and felt rewarded when I solved a puzzle quickly. It did feel odd, however, to solve a puzzle randomly without realizing what I did. Moments like that were rare but when they happened I felt as if I hadn’t earned my progress.
A big addition to Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut is its new story and musical score. The story is fairly forgettable and is told through static-filled audio clips. While it does culminate in an interesting ending, I didn’t see it as the main reason for playing through the game. The musical score, however, was absolutely incredible next to the games slick look. As big of a deal as the story’s addition was to many, the musical score makes the game feel like it’s on another level, especially when coupled with the already fantastic art style. Q.U.B.E features a soft-shaded style that blends smooth, white surfaces with vivid pops of color to give it a unique feel all its own. My only real problem with the new score and sound effects is the awful ball-rolling noise you’re bound to hear in the end game. Man, it’s just awful.
Overall Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut is a great puzzle game for those that haven’t played the original version. If you played it back in 2011 this game won’t have much to offer in the way of new content and excitement. The story does little to impress and the new time trial levels are only for the dedicated and determined. However, if you missed out on Q.U.B.E back when it came out, I can honestly say that this is the definitive version to get. Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut has a style all its own with gameplay that is intuitive and rewarding and all of that is coupled by a new musical score that is certainly worth hearing.