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Cubikolor review

What do you get if you cross a Rubik’s Cube type puzzler, Q-bert and 60 cups of coffee, well apart from Dave and Rich’s lovechild (just seeing if they actually read this) the answer is a colourful yet sometimes stressful cube rolling puzzler called Cubikolor. Now I’m not someone who gives up easily but there is a point in a game when you ask yourself “god damn why am I doing this to myself” as you fling your headset, controller, and anything else you can get your hands on, and unfortunately the cat fell victim to this, across the room in despair.

Developed by Fractal Box and published by Moving Player, Cubikolor puts you in control of a multi-colored cube which you move around a 3D environment. The intention is to reach a cube marked with a keyhole to progress to the next level. Sounds easy but there is a catch, as the majority of levels require specific blocks to be unlocked by matching or not in some cases the color of your cube face with the tile you are landing on. By matching your cube with the tile you land on you will go up one level, (in height that is) and if the colors don’t match you will go down one level. Again, this sounds easy but there are also booby-trapped cubes and multi-colored cubes thrown in just to make your life that little bit more complicated.

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Controls are simple and you navigate the cube around the game using the left thumbstick. If you get stuck by making the wrong choice and you will, you can press the B button and you will go back several moves. Y brings up the on screen help menu and if all else fails you can press X to restart the level. As I progressed through the game I found myself using the X button more than I care to mention as by making a wrong choice during the game can literally mean you will end up getting stuck with nowhere to go. This meant that there was a lot of forward thinking and planning involved in the later stages of the game which really did seem to slow the natural flow of the game down.

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Now some puzzlers can be short lived but Cubikolor brings with it a huge 150 levels, fair enough they are all based around navigating around mazes with a colorful cube but with fifteen stages and ten levels in each stage there is enough to keep anyone busy. As you can imagine the levels get progressively more difficult with the introduction of multiple keyholes that you have to unlock the higher the level of game you are playing. Now this is where the flow of the game becomes a pain, as if you get stuck and have to reset and you then find yourself repeating it all over again. If you have a short memory, you might find yourself getting stuck elsewhere where you didn’t go wrong before. This is the point you might want to throw some things and shout loudly, and inevitably ask the question, why are you putting yourself through this. Adding a timer to this also just heightens the stress levels and after completion of some puzzles a quiet lay down in a darkened room is required.

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Once you finally do complete a level your reward comes in the form of a shiny bronze, silver or gold medal based on the amount of moves and time you took. This is a nice and simple representation of how you are doing or not as the case maybe. Once you have cleared the sometimes impossible task of all 10 levels it will then allow you to progress on to the next stage to repeat the process until you are a true champion and all 150 are complete, now you can try Hardkore mode. The one thing however you cannot say about Cubikolor is that it’s dull. The colors and sound are vibrant and, well let’s say bouncy, which I found really draws you into the game and before you know it you’ve spent hours flicking a small cube around a screen into the early hours of the morning.

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Cubikolor is a great idea for a game but the planning and unforgiveness really took the edge off it for me. Saying that, it’s executed well and the smoothness of the navigation and controls, sounds and colors really made it enjoyable, when I wasn’t shouting at my screen.

Thanks to Xbox and Fractal Box for supporting TiX

 

Review

After a heavy night, celebrating his birthday, Gary wakes up to realise that he’s incredibly late for work. Quickly realising that his job is on the line, he does what anyone in his position would do, enlist the help of his old colleague and friend, Marty, and sneaks into the office.

Oddly reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid, and Alien: Isolation, it’s up to you to guide Gary around his office block, ensuring that no one spots him, as he makes his way through 22 floors of  sneaking past security guards, hiding in cabinets, and doing everything he can to avoid the gaze of his suspecting colleagues.

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Along the way, you will pick up items to help Gary sneak through the office, from eraser launchers to distract guards, newspapers to hide your face, and massive account ledgers to knock out your unsuspecting adversaries. There is also the odd moment where you must combine items to create more powerful tools to aid you. One example has you dunking a doughnut into a vat of radioactive liquid, and feeding it to a security guard, which in turn gives him reason to run to the toilet, and move from his post, enabling you to pass with ease.

Unexpectedly, at the end of the four worlds you must sneak through, a boss battle is introduced to break up the pace of the game. For each fight, you must use some of the skills you learned from the previous levels, as well as work with new techniques which are introduced. The first boss you encounter, for example, you must defeat one of the chief security guards by using the metal detectors to force him to move, then use explosives to reduce his health. Easy to pick up, but tricky to perfect, once you had a grasp of what was expected of you, it took no time at all to take him down. None of the boss battles are especially hard, in fact Level 22 in general isn’t a difficult game, but timing your runs, and using the environment is key to each successful passage.

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Although many mistakes will happen, and they will frustrate and annoy, more often than not errors occur due to impatience or losing concentration. Not once did I feel I was cheated when failing, and with every loss, the “one more try” mentality took hold.

Not only must you sneak your way around the office, but your friend Marty has also given you additional tasks to complete along the way. As you make your way through each floor, there are collectable figures to pick up, all parodies of popular comic and game franchises, such as Batman or Wolverine. Not only must you locate these, but there are also safety deposit boxes located throughout each world, which with successful decoding, reward you with a piece of a puzzle. The addition of the figures and puzzle pieces encourages you to replay through each level, making sure you cover every nook and cranny to achieve that elusive 100%, it also helps that upon discovering each statue, you are awarded an achievement, so gamerscore hunters are well catered for here…

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Visually, Level 22 is charming and beautifully simple. With a style which harks back from the 16-bit era, it fits the overall style of the game perfectly, which wouldn’t feel out of place loaded onto an old-school arcade machine. The interface is clean and simple, and never detracts from the main action of the game. By simply displaying the tools at your disposal in the top corner of the screen, it’s easy to take note of what you have, whilst trying to dodge the glances and stares of your colleagues.

The soundtrack to Level 22 is packed full of 16-bit charm, and invokes a level of nostalgia towards the arcade games of old. Bouncy, and incredibly catchy, it is a delight to listen to, even when not playing. I must admit, I sat at the start screen for some time, just listening to the opening music.

Level 22 released on January 29 is available to buy from the Xbox Live store for £5.59, which in my opinion is an absolute steal.

Thanks to Xbox and Moving Player for their support

 

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