Top-drawer minimal puzzler with hard challenge.
Developer: Trykon Studios
Publisher: Trykon Studios
Release date: 31 May, 2018
Despite its title, this is a 2D puzzle game. The ‘cube’ refers to the layout of the UI: there are 4 sides/sections that spin the cube around from one level to the next; on top there’s the main level overview where you can see at a glance how many stars you’ve achieved and which levels you need to improve on; underneath there’s the alien(?) character who tells you some humorous nonsense on each level. At the beginning you’re asked to enter your name, and then throughout the game this character uses it constantly, like some over-familiar red-faced salesman at a party who you’re desperate to get away from.
The puzzles involve sliding blocks around the board towards their correctly coloured exit portals. There are various types of obstacles and special blocks introduced, but the main feature is that every time you slide a block it will always travel as far as it can go until it hits an object/other block/trap/whatever. There are no timers but you achieve better scores the fewer moves you make.
Sound & Vision
It’s a cube suspended in space. Clear and intuitive UI with no fancy gimmicks, as it should be. Sound volume sliders and screen resolution options are available from both main menu and in-game. There are 6 music tracks with a shuffle option, all of them are fun, chirpy little tunes that I was happy to leave on. One minor glitch I should mention is that the game often reverts to windowed mode on game exit and I have to keep switching it back to fullscreen. No biggie (literally!)
This is a hard challenge, no two ways about it – I was already struggling before the end of the first section! You get a 1, 2 or 3 star rating based on the number of moves you took to solve the puzzle, so sometimes you can “brute force” it using loads of moves, but more often than not it doesn’t matter how many moves you make, it still seems impossible. There’s always a solution in the end, of course, but it’s amazing how devious such a simple-looking puzzle can be.
The Dreaded Bottleneck Syndrome
Levels are unlocked one after another which means you can be stuck on one particular level. In this situation you can go back and improve on scores from previous levels for a temporary change of scene, but you’re not going to see anything new until you get past this level. This can lead to tunnel vision, frustration and ultimately rage-quit.
Suggestion to the dev: what’s needed is to always have 2-3 uncompleted levels available so you can refresh your brain with a different puzzle every so often. Being stuck on 3 different levels is much more satisfying because you know you’re hitting your overall skill limit rather than being impeded by one puzzle.
I’d be happy to pay full price, I think they’re charging the correct amount.
The store page is only showing 4 achievements but the stats page shows 4 more (with broken images) but anyway, these are all for normal game progression, no quirky ones. Cloud support would be a nice addition, and no trading cards yet.
Closing Arguments & Summing Up
The core puzzling here is excellent. What looks simple at first glance is in fact a hard challenge with a wide variety of unique levels, that never feel ‘samey’, designed by an evil genius (as all the best puzzlers are). The “DBS” is a minor disappointment but…
To paraphrase the judge from Papillon’s dream sequence…
Yours is the most terrible crime a human being can commit. I accuse you of a wasted life making a Unity game without Linux support!