Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut Review (Xbox One)
Martin J. Hutchison gets his Portal fix in Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut
If you’ve ever felt like it’s been too long since you had a new Portal game in your life, then you’re in luck. Q.U.B.E is not a new game, per se; it’s been around since 2011. The difference now, though, is that its Director’s Cut release has added dialogue and story. If you played the original at all, you’ll know that its sterile environment and lack of characters made it a fairly bland experience if you crave story. The Director’s cut, thankfully, fixes that.
The game takes place on an installation somewhere in space. You’re informed by an astronaut on board the International Space Station that it’s up to you to prevent an asteroid colliding with Earth, which will wipe out all life. The astronaut, Commander Nowak, is one of two characters you hear during your time in Q.U.B.E, but she frequently goes out of contact when the ISS cycles around the other side of planet Earth. When Nowak comes back into contact, she tells your character about themselves, as Mission Control fears that you may have lost your memory.
The gameplay from Q.U.B.E remains largely unchanged. You move through a huge, plain installation solving various puzzles. While Portal has its Portal Gun, Q.U.B.E’s protagonist manipulates his environment with a special pair of gloves. These gloves let you raise, lower and generally manipulate certain panels in the installation. This is the bread and butter of Q.U.B.E’s gameplay, and it works as well as could be expected. Different colours of block react in different ways when used; Red blocks simply move back and forward, blue blocks act as springs, yellow blocks move in threes.
Each type of block is introduced one at a time, and the challenge of the puzzles that involve them slowly ramps up. At the start of the game, the puzzles are simply putting the right blocks in the right places but as you advance, they become much more difficult. Later in Q.U.B.E, puzzles involve beams of lights and magnets. The magnet section is famously tedious, but the general experience of Q.U.B.E fills a void in my life left by a lack of Portal sequels. I know I’ve made the comparison a couple of times now, but it feels like Q.U.B.E owes a lot to Valves physics puzzler.
But it’s not a try-hard imitation. The addition of the story elements alone are reason enough to give the Q.U.B.E Director’s Cut a play if you picked it up the first time. If you haven’t played it before, I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t do so now. Right now.
8 Portal comparisons out of 10