Over at gamescom, I had the chance to try out the first 20 minutes of Q.U.B.E. 2, the sequel to 2009’s puzzler. Like its predecessor, the game puts the player in the shoes of a protagonist who must use cube-shaped features to navigate obstacles in the environment.
The hands-on demo consisted of the first mission, which introduces us to Amelia Cross, an archaeologist stranded in an alien planet. With the help of an ally over radio and the use of a special glove that moves geometrically shaped obstacles, you must navigate the various mazes of the alien ruin and find out what’s behind it all.
In Q.U.B.E. 2, puzzles are solved by interacting with various coloured cubes, each with a specific property. Blue cubes catapult you into the air, green cubes plop out other cubes you can use around the environment, and orange cubes extend outside from the wall and become a rectangle platform. Taken alone, they are pretty straightforward, but it's the combination and their interactions that makes up most of Q.U.B.E. 2’s puzzles.
During the first level, you wake up in a cryogenic chamber and is contacted on radio by Commander Emma Sutcliffe, who helps you make sense of the situation you’re in. Stranded in alien ruins and plagued with amnesia, you find the special glove that allows you to activate cubes and progress through a 20 minute long tutorial.
An improvement over the first game in every single aspect, Q.U.B.E. 2 is all about navigating increasingly challenging puzzle rooms. While they’re a bit more linear and lack the freeform variables of the classic Portal franchise, the puzzles manage to be engaging thanks to the multiple cube interactions needed to solve each room.
As the game progresses, you are given more cubes and elements to contend with. Over 80 individual puzzles are in the final game, and the overall plot takes place in 11 different levels. From what I’ve seen, they are an interesting mix of alien architecture and wilderness, as nature tries to reclaim the derelict ruins you awaken in.
Technically, Q.U.B.E. 2 is quite capable. Graphics, level design, and voice acting are all much better than expected from an average indie title, and the soundtrack composed by David Housden (of Thomas Was Alone fame) manages to capture the atmosphere perfectly. Add to that some incredibly effective first-person animations, and the result is one very immersive and polished puzzle title.
Q.U.B.E. 2 is out on the 13th of March on Steam.