One day a ginger lad named Seamus fell down a manhole and ended up in an evil scientist’s lab. That’s pretty much the entire story of Cubicity, and thank goodness! Here’s an indie physics puzzler that knows exactly what is, and performs its role without feeling any need to bog players down in contrived plot or unnecessary baggage. It does also mean Cubicity is a little forgettable, and perhaps a little too arcade-y, but it’s also smooth, thoughtful and surprisingly addictive.
As I mentioned before, Seamus falls down a manhole, right into an evil genius’ lair. The guy’s happy to see him, as finally there’s someone to go through his giant series of tests. There is a very Aperture Science feel to the whole approach; a dystopic complex where you’re pushed to keep testing, but really you’re happy to do so, with each problem being just as fun to approach as the last. Tied by a rope to the ceiling of each room (for some reason), you use a magnet to pull cubes around the 2D room and manipulate a certain target cube into a box. It’s cute, and its happy-go-lucky atmosphere accompanied by Seamus’ benign, vacant smile and occasional comments of ‘I’m hungry’ make what could be a daunting linear series of rooms seem like a rather happy jaunt.
You’re given more tools along the way, weirdly called ‘weapons’ despite the placid nature of Cubicity, one of them even being a portal gun (the portals are even orange and purple!), but it still feels much more like tribute that plagiarism, the end product being so functionally distinct from Portal that it’s really just a pleasant callback. The portals are in fact where the game really turns into a bit of a head-scratcher – none of the game is seriously difficult, and I think this is where the my criticism lies, but it’s with cubes teleporting across the room that you really have to start thinking.
Yes, the difficulty is a bit of an issue. It’s easy to the point where it might not do puzzle games quite enough justice, being simple enough for a lot of players to complete really rather quickly, and the game’s introductory period of very simple puzzles goes on for a whopping 25 or so rooms. Let’s get to the nitty gritty, Cubicity! Also, while it does speak to wonderfully fluid physics, there are some rooms where I feel it just hasn’t been calibrated quite right, and I solved the puzzle by accident. It’s hard to describe, but for example it’s quite often possible to move the target cube into the box by simply dropping other cubes on top of it repeatedly so it moves, inch by inch, slowly into the target zone. I feel I really should have been prevented from being able to do this, and I should be forced to use my brain box – while I promise I only did this on purpose once , the target cube has sort of fallen into the zone by accident on multiple occasions.
While Cubicity won’t reel you in with mindblowing features, it’s also a harmless and pleasant little game to whack out and satisfyingly blast through a couple of rooms in. It has the simplicity of an iOS puzzler (I’m actually very surprised it’s not on said platform), but also that addictive factor that has people staring at Angry Birds on train journeys. It doesn’t try to exceed itself, but in some cases, that’s enough.
[+Pleasant, colourful art style and a very approachable atmosphere] [+Smoothly playable, enough to keep you keen for the next puzzle] [+Doesn’t overextend itself, keeps it light] [-Some difficulty balance issues] [-Some puzzles feel they need a bit more calibration and testing] [-Boring soundtrack]