Surprisingly Euclidian – Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube
After the massive success of Portal we would have expected first person puzzle games to emerge in droves. Sadly, that didn’t seem to be the case. A few good ones did come out, yes, but not nearly as many as we would have hoped. The problem with puzzle games is that often they have very little re-playability, so to counter that we need more of them! /Surely, this explains our excitement when we were introduced to Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube.
Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube transports players to a beautiful world of floating blocks. You have no idea why this world exists or why you are in it. There is but one goal; to advance through the world. To do this you will have to explore the levels, picking up various different coloured cubes.Each cube has different properties which you will have to utilise if you want to make it to the end of the level. This mechanic is certainly not a new concept to puzzle games (see Q.U.B.E and Antichamber) but it is tried and tested and it makes for some good puzzling. The game, however is a fair bit easier than most others of it’s genre which may not necessarily be a bad thing. It’s manageable difficulty along with it’s serene atmosphere and lack of narrative creates a truly zen-like experience. This may or may not have been the developers angle but given that the game has Oculus Rift support it was a welcome one.
It isn’t all sunshine and rainbow-cubes though as the game isn’t flawless. Some of these flaws are petty, like why doesn’t our character have feet? or how can we pronounce Qbeh without sounding like we just swallowed a fly. There are, however some bigger problems with the game. The world looks gorgeous. yes, but after a short time it starts to get pretty boring. After a few more levels pretty boring becomes extremely boring and there’s only so much a new skybox or texture on the cubes can do to change things up. The other issue that annoyed us was the use of checkpoints. Now, we know this sounds entitled as hell but hear us out. Qbeh-1 is a puzzle game which means that the challenge the players are looking to overcome is to solve the puzzles. To be able to solve the puzzles you have to trek around the map collecting all of the necessary cubes. After that you often have to place the cubes in awkward positions, wait a long time on moving platforms, and serpentine your way around holes in the floor or over small jumps. This is all fine, it’s part of the game… this first time. The second time it started to get on our nerves as we glared at the hole we unexpectedly fell down on our way past. The third time it becomes painfully tedious, and so on. Obviously, this could be avoided by just… not dying but even the best of us make mistakes and these mistakes will almost always result in laborious backtracking and repetition.
Qbeh-1’s atmosphere is handled expertly. The uniform, floating blocks that the world is made up of combined with the gorgeous skies, beautiful lighting and scattered foliage make for a perfectly tranquil environment to explore. The soundtrack matches the visuals with calm unobtrusive music, the kind of thing you might hear someone meditate to. With each new world the theme changes, for example; in the first level the world has a very light, clean well kept look but in the second level there is virtually no natural light, the blocks look rougher and more disorderly and any outdoor sections are mostly very foggy. This can keep things relatively fresh but in our opinion, it still isn’t enough to keep things from getting all too repetitive.
Despite it’s flaws we did like Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube. Our gripes with it did not detract too much from an otherwise enjoyable experience. and if you are a fan of puzzle games it will be worth the meager £6.99 price on steam, especially if you have an Oculus Rift. You can also pick up the original Qbeh on Desura for free which, while much shorter is definitely worth a try.
Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube is available on Steam