Tag Archives: Q.U.B.E

Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut review

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At first glance, it’s impossible not to judge Q.U.B.E. as a Portal clone, and while the game may have taken some inspiration from Valve’s puzzler, it doesn’t make it any less of a game.

Waking up with no memory as to who or where you are, a woman interrupts the silence with a radio transmission that paints a disturbing picture – you are alone, trapped onboard a spacecraft that is on a crash course with earth. After warning you of the maddening confines of deep space, the radio cuts out as the voice transmitting the signal goes out of orbit. Upon reflecting on this stark warning, and taking a fresh look at my confines, it’s evident that the sterile environment I was in looks like a padded cell – was I really on board an alien spacecraft?

Your sense of what is going on in Q.U.B.E. will be tested each time a new transmission is received, and to add to any confusion you might have, there is also a rival signal that paints a different picture – but which one will you follow? Is the new voice just a confused astronaut who has gone insane within his own padded cell? It’s a great concept and something I feel that should have been developed further during the short campaign, which climaxes in an ending that lets you decide an outcome depending on how you perceived the narrative.

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Q.U.B.E.’s physics-based puzzles must be bested to prevent the alien ship from crashing into earth – let’s just backtrack a minute – to stop a ship from crashing you must complete a set of block puzzles? That is a weird scenario to comprehend and not something I fully accepted, but there are puzzles that need solving, which is the main reason that most people will download Q.U.B.E.

To progress through the game, you must manipulate coloured blocks with your high-tech gloves to create a path through each room. Every colour has a different attribute; red blocks can be pulled out of the walls and floors to make a column up to three blocks high while yellow ones form a staircase of three blocks. Blue blocks can be set so that they launch you (or an object) up into the air and green blocks must be moved around to help you get to out of reach ledges. In later levels, purple arrows are thrown in that when pressed rotate a section of the room you’re in, which can really mess with your perception.

My favourite puzzles included navigating a green ball through a maze and directing light beams through several different coloured blocks to create the colour of the keystone. Minus the light puzzles, everything in Q.U.B.E. is based around simple physics, and while not mind bogglingly difficult, the puzzles were a joy to play and give a wonderful sense of achievement as you best each one.

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Starting off simple, the puzzles get steadily harder before they suddenly remove the training wheels, allowing you to decide which of the coloured blocks you place on the different surfaces, but I was challenged most during the ten levels of Against the Clock mode – devious time trials that demand precision and quick reflexes if you are to best them to grab the gold medal and top the online leaderboards.

It’s the Against the Clock mode that gave me the most cause for complaint with Q.U.B.E. I found the puzzles within this mode to be far more creative and clever than the whole of the main campaign, it also begs the question that there should also be a level designer for gamers to create their own evil creations to challenge their friends.

Q.U.B.E.’s simplistic design and puzzle mechanics make it an adorable title that steadily gets harder and harder. It’s impossible not to draw comparisons with Portal, especially when the second half of the game includes crumbling chambers, but I had a great time wandering through the blocky world of Q.U.B.E. even if its climax came far too soon. If you enjoy 3D puzzlers, then I highly recommend you pick this up – it’s a great evening’s entertainment!

Thanks to Xbox and Grip Games for supporting TiX

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Physics-based puzzler Q.U.B.E. lands July 24

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Grip Games have revealed that on July 24 physics-based puzzler, Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut, will release globally on Xbox One.

In Q.U.B.E (‘Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion’), you step into the moon boots of an astronaut stranded on a mysterious spaceship – I recently remarked on the TiX podcast how everyone seems to be releasing a space game, and while Q.U.B.E. was released way back in 2011, I must admit to enjoying the influx of space titles.

The Director’s Cut promises to be the ‘ultimate edition’ of Q.U.B.E. – many have compared its devious puzzles to Portal, which is quite the accolade. The name of the game is block puzzles that centre around physics – sounds simple right!

There’s platforming puzzles and 3D jigsaw puzzles that demand quick thinking, logic and precision if you are to best them and find your way back home. For returning fans there’s also new levels and modes to take on. Grip Games’ Jakub Mikyska said,

Everyone who became immersed in Q.U.B.E on its first release will be glad to return to face the all-new challenges, while gamers who have yet to experience the mysteries of Q.U.B.E have a treat in store.

Will you enter the Q.U.B.E ?

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Cubism is the art technique where an object is taken, analysed, broken up and reassembled in abstract form. Prague has the world’s only cubist lamp post. What’s the link, I hear you ask.

Well, in Q.U.B.E, short for Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion, you have the task of analysing the puzzle, using the special gloves to manipulate and in essence, reassemble the environment, apart from the abstract nature, it’s pretty much cubism in action.

A cross-platform hit when it was originally released, Q.U.B.E The Director’s Cut brings back the original developers, Toxic Games, and this release gets the addition of the Against the Qlock mode, ten bonus levels and an all-new soundtrack to tickle the ears.

The game will also boast all the features of the original game that made it so popular, as you try to make your way out of a mysterious spaceship by manipulating 3D jigsaws, utilising your quick reactions in first person platforming and solving the mysteries ahead of you.

As if all that wasn’t enough, publisher, Grip Games and Toxic Games have released a gameplay trailer for Q.U.B.E The Director’s Cut, which is down for release this summer.

Developer Interview: Grip Games and Terrible Posture Games

Tower of Guns was released on Xbox One on the 10th of April, introducing us to the insane spectacle and experience of a bullet-hell, first-person shooter with Rougelike randomisation and permadeath. We enjoyed it, giving it a solid 80% in our review, and we were fortunate enough to have a chat with Grip Games’ Jakub Mikyska who helped bring the title to Xbox One, and Terrible Posture Games’ Joe Mirabello, the one-man team who developed the game.

This is Xbox: What, in your eyes, made Tower of Guns such an attractive title to add to your porting portfolio?

Jakub Mikyska: Everybody loves a good FPS and Tower of Guns was just so unique and different that it immediately managed to stand out. It was also made using the Unreal Engine, which is currently our engine of choice. The reviews were good, the buzz was there, it was an easy decision. And after getting in touch with Joe, we found out that we are on the same wavelength and our cooperation started.

This is Xbox: There’s a lot going on on-screen at any one time in Tower of Guns, making it CPU intensive. Was it challenging optimising the game for Xbox One?

Jakub Mikyska: It certainly proved to be a challenge. We had to do lots of optimizations to make sure the game runs smoothly. Getting to 1080p/60fps was our goal, with switch to 30fps acceptable only in the most extreme situations. Also, on PC occasional drops in frame rate are tolerable, people are used to that, but on consoles, that is a major issues for a lot of people.

We certainly didn’t want to sacrifice the gameplay and the looks. We didn’t want to lower the number of projectiles or enemies, so we took a long time to make it right.

This is Xbox: Were there any other challenges in porting Tower of Guns over to Xbox One?

Jakub Mikyska: Other than the optimizations, the development went pretty smoothly. There are a few pesky bugs that managed to get through our testing, as well as Microsoft’s quality assurance test, but we have already submitted a patch and it should go live in a few days.

This is Xbox: We see you’ve recently revealed Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut coming to Xbox One later this year. What can you tell us about that title?

Jakub Mikyska: Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut is another first person game we are releasing this year. It is not a shooter, but a puzzle-platformer. Quite like Portal. You can manipulate the environment using some seriously sci-fi gloves. The Director’s Cut contains all of the previously released DLC and some other improvements for consoles. We plan to release Q.U.B.E. in early summer, so it is not that far away!

This is Xbox: Are there any other titles you’re bringing to Xbox One that you can talk about?

Jakub Mikyska: We’re hoping we will be able to reveal our next project at the E3!

This is Xbox: How terrifying is it to have released a game that was solely put together by you, knowing that any critique rested squarely on your shoulders?

Joe Mirabello: It’s pretty terrifying! While I’m pretty happy with how the game turned out, I’m also the kind of person who could have kept working on the game perpetually forever, and I knew I had to be realistic about what could be achieved by a mostly-solo developer. I knew I was going to be learning a lot of new things and juggling a lot of hats and that there was a good chance I would never finish unless I looked for very pragmatic solutions to problems. Now I think about it, “terrifying” is a good word for the whole experience of solo development, not just for the release.

This is Xbox: What were the benefits and challenges involved in creating Tower of Guns independently on your own?

Joe Mirabello: Some of the challenges are pretty obvious; I had to juggle a lot of different duties and multitask and learn a lot of new technologies, but the most difficult aspect of working alone is that its very easy to second guess yourself. When you work with a team you have a sort of shared ‘confidence’ in a project, and when you’re by yourself that’s replaced only with doubt. I developed a lot of tactics to combat my own dips in morale/motivation. Those tactics involved publicly blogging, tracking my hours, going to tradeshows, participating in events with other indies, being active on my forums and on twitter, regularly sending out early access builds, altering my sleep schedule, developing skills to help break up complex tasks…there’s probably a bunch I’m forgetting about. All of it was an effort just to keep myself moving.

On the flipside, I was able to build anything I wanted. I was able to inject myself into the game to a degree I’ve never done before on any project I’ve worked on–quite literally in some places. I was able to say “what if this game gave you a hundred jumps?” On any other project that sort of proposal would have been shot down immediately (not without reason, mind you) but in the case of Tower of Guns I was able to ask myself those questions early and, as the sole gatekeeper, take the time to build an experience around them. Making a bullet-hell FPS? Making an FPS with an emphasis on verticality? Letting the player get to any place in the map they can see? All of these things directly challenged my training as a more traditional game developer. They were each small experiments in Tower of Guns, some more successful than others, but together they made the experience of building the game a really exciting one.

This is Xbox: Do you miss the triple A development process or does the lone wolf method suit you better?

Joe Mirabello: I actually miss Triple A development a lot. It’s a lot of fun to work on a high-profile project, and by and large the developers in Triple A are great people. You basically inherit whole groups of friends when you start at a new company, and there’s really a sense of working on something bigger than yourself when you’re on a large team.

That said, I’ve enjoyed working on my own thing too. I enjoy the fact that I can make a risky weird first-person shooter that no one else would make. I enjoy feeling empowered, even as a solo developer, by the current state of technology in this industry. I like being able to have authorship over an entire project, start to finish. More so, the indie road is still an unknown road to me. I know what I can do as a member of a big Triple A team; I might part of something amazing, and I would certainly improve more in a singular discipline, but it’s much more of a known road. This indie road is still winding along and taking me to new places, where I meet people I would have never otherwise met, have to challenge myself in ways I could not have imagined, and have to spend a lot more time on airplanes!

Perhaps I won’t remain indie forever, but for now it’s a road I’m very curious to explore, and I’m very very fortunate that Tower of Guns has done well enough to afford me the ability to explore it.

This is Xbox: What’s next for Terrible Posture Games – is there anything on the horizon or an idea you’re eager to work on next?

Joe Mirabello: Oh, I’m always working on something. Making things makes me happy. But I’m not quite yet at the point where I’m ready to share my next project yet.

A big thank you to Joe Mirabello from Terrible Posture Games, and Jakub Mikyska from Grip Games for chatting with us. You can read our review of Tower of Guns here.