Unfortunately not the sequel to You, Me, and the Cubes
Q.U.B.E. 2 is a first-person puzzle-platformer filled with a ton of puzzles based around physics. The general idea—as well as the game’s overall aesthetic of clean, scientific test chambers—is highly reminiscent of Portal. However, what Q.U.B.E. 2 lacks in originality it makes up for with incredible complexity in the tools you work with to solve puzzles. Although it’s pretty short, clocking in at only around five hours, it has an impressively diverse set of puzzles that keep bringing new ideas to the table right up to the very end of the story.
Your main tool is a set of gauntlets that can turn special white tiles into different colors. Each color has a different effect: blue tiles become springboards that send you or other objects flying; red tiles can extend outward to create a platform; and green tiles can generate blocks that you can stand on or use to push other things around. These colors will be the only things you’ll have for the whole game, but each puzzle room will also have its own tools you’ll need to work with such as magnetic panels that can grab or throw green blocks, or powerful fans that create wind that can be blocked with red platforms. Every environmental tool is used in multiple rooms, and since you keep getting introduced to new tools right up to the end of the game, you’ll keep being challenged to learn new ways to make two pieces of the puzzles interact.
Something I appreciated a lot about how Q.U.B.E. 2 taught me to use its tools was that it carefully set up the introduction to each new tool so that I could figure it out on my own. Basic controller prompts would appear, but I was left to experiment with each item to figure out what I could do with it. Instead of a tutorial prompt telling me that I could block the wind from fans with red platforms, I just saw a white tile next to the fan and found out for myself that blue and green tiles were worthless here. I was able to use level design clues to figure out the rules for every tool in the environment, which made even the basic tutorial puzzles satisfying.
Unfortunately, there are a few technical issues with the Switch version that brought down the experience. The sound that plays when something bounces off of a blue tile is so loud that I could often hear the audio clipping, which ended up being really uncomfortable with headphones on. This got annoying pretty fast since the blue tiles are the very first tool you’re given at the start of the game, and you’ll be using them a lot. Performance also started to take a hit in the back half of the game as the environmental art became more extravagant. Foliage would have bizzare pop-in issues, disappearing entirely as I got close to it. Rooms with a lot of grass would also cause the framerate to drop—that is, if the grass didn’t pop out of existence entirely. I’ve never played Q.U.B.E. 2 on another platform, so I don’t know if these problems are unique to the Switch version, but they definitely made the port feel a little half-baked.
Despite the technical problems, Q.U.B.E. 2 is still an incredible game that I had trouble putting down. I can’t remember the last time I played a puzzle game with so many unique elements to keep track of, and it’s definitely rare that I’ve played a game with so many puzzles that are so consistently well-designed. Out of the 80+ puzzles, I wouldn’t say a single one was bad, and none of them were so obtuse that I needed to give up and find a solution online—although some definitely stumped me for a while. If a patch or two comes out to fix the performance problems in the late game, then picking this up will be a no-brainer.