The first Q.U.B.E. game was revered as one of the only titles that came close to replicating the magic of Portal, Valve's revolutionary puzzle franchise. Like Portal, Q.U.B.E. blended an interesting setting and story with unique and satisfying puzzle mechanics, and though the game lacked some of the charm that Portal had, it was still an excellent experience.
Q.U.B.E. 2, the recent sequel, takes all of this and expands on it all. On top of that, it also improves upon the issue of a weak story that its predecessor had. Though the pacing is a bit too fast, Q.U.B.E. 2 is nevertheless a fantastic sequel.
Story: A mysterious world to escape
You play through Q.U.B.E. 2 as Amelia Cross, an archaeologist who has strangely awoken in the depths of an alien landscape on an unknown world. Equipped with a suit that allows you to bend architecture to your will, you must traverse this mysterious environment in order to meet up with the only other survivor you come into contact with, Emma. Together, you must find a way to escape.
The story here isn't really that deep, but I think it fits perfectly for a puzzle game. Similar to Portal, which slowly uncovered more details about the Aperture Science company to you as you progressed through levels, Q.U.B.E. 2 drip-feeds you more information about the alien setting and why you're there every time you complete puzzle.
It's very much like a television show; the "episodes" (levels and puzzles) will showcase new things about the story each time, but only just enough to fuel your desire to find out what happens next. This creates a satisfying duality between the writing and the gameplay: as you solve the puzzles in front of you, you're also solving the narrative mystery.
Gameplay: Geometric manipulation at its finest
In order to solve the various puzzles of Q.U.B.E. 2, you'll be using your state-of-the-art "manipulation suit" to alter your environment so that it allows you to progress. Using the suit's powerful gloves, you can create three different objects: bounce pads, platforms, and cubes. All three of these are essential to every puzzle in the game.
This trifecta of creations form the core of Q.U.B.E. 2's mechanics, but they aren't the only important things. Every area introduces new influences to the environment that interact with your objects in different ways, such as wind turbines, metal balls, and moving walls. All of this adds challenge to the game and keeps every puzzle unique, making the game satisfying from beginning to end.
The only issue with Q.U.B.E. 2's gameplay is the fact that new mechanics are thrown into the mix a bit too fast. Often times, right when you feel like you've learned what one new object can do, you're already being forced into another one. Aside from this, everything is top notch.
Presentation: The best ambience around
Whether you're in a cold, dark test chamber or out in the warm sun surrounded by vegetation, Q.U.B.E. 2's visuals are breathtakingly beautiful. A wide range of colors and superb lighting mean that the game is a joy to look at, and often will evoke various feelings from the player. The musical score is great, too, and the soundtracks work together perfectly with the graphics to make the title feel like a work of art.
Q.U.B.E. 2 Xbox One conclusion
Satisfying gameplay, a great mysterious narrative and amazing presentation come together to create one of Xbox One's best puzzle experiences yet.
- Excellent gameplay.
- Well-written story that keeps you hooked.
- Flawless presentation.
- Pacing is a little too fast.
Q.U.B.E. 2 is available now on Xbox One for $24.99.
This review was conducted on an Xbox One, using a copy provided by the publisher.
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