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The RPS Advent Calendar 2018, Dec 13th

We're not putting the dots in there

It's day 13 of the RPS Avent Calendar and these cubes are more than mere companions.

It's QUBE 2!

Alice L: QUBE 2 is the Portal 3 we never had (yet, I'm still holding out hope for a Portal 3). It brings you mind-bending puzzles in a sci-fi environment full of different rooms filled with new challenges.

Your name is Millie Cross, you find yourself stranded on a vast, open, alien planet and the last contact you have with earth is a phone call from your husband and dog. You make your way through a sandy storm and you black out. When you wake you find yourself waking up in a building filled with cubes. Now, I know you're probably thinking this doesn't sound much like Portal, but this is only the beginning. Once Millie gets her bearings inside the building she is met by the voice of Emma Sutcliffe, who tells you to remain calm. You’re apparently suffering from cryogenic induced amnesia, she thinks you were tasked with destroying “the Cube,” (see, more cubes) and you’re in a suit that will give you the ability to manipulate your surroundings (which are specific white squares... or 2D cubes). Your task is to reach a human distress signal in this weird, blocky, stark, environment.

I dunno why I don't trust Emma, but I have a sneaky suspicion it's because of a certain Bristolian personality core from Portal 2. She helps guide you through the strange planet which means using some special gloves to get to your end goal. The gloves let you create different coloured squares - green generates a cube, orange a platform, and blue makes you bounce. Your job is to get through each progressively more difficult chamber by smashing through doors and pressing buttons, using oil, fire, magnets, fans, massive ball bearings, and your roster of different coloured cubes. It’s not a gun, and it’s not all physics based, but the same ideas behind Portal are present.

It's the restrictions on your abilities that make it so challenging - and satisfying - to work out the solutions. You can only have one cube of one colour at one time, and you can't change the colour of squares beneath cubes already in position. That means you need to twist your brain into cube-shapes to work out the order and timings of puzzle solutions. When there is an element introduced that feels more powerful, such as the magnets, these only serve to make it feel like you're breaking the system in some way by discovering methods the designers never intended. You're not - these are the only available solutions to the puzzles - but it still feels fantastic.

I just adore puzzle games, and figuring out a particularly tricky room in QUBE 2 gives me a sense of joy that I struggle to replicate in real life.

Also, it reminded me of Portal. A lot. Did that come across?

Looking to open another door? Head back to the RPS Advent Calendar 2018.

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The all-seeing eye of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the voice of many-as-one.