Platform: PlayStation Network
Every few months, I get bitten by the puzzle game bug. Random fits of Meteos, Lumines, Puzzle Quest and Intelligent Qube litter my gaming landscape. When I first learned about Creat Studios block-based puzzler Cuboid, it was as if the stars aligned, for I began to feel the itch once more. The PlayStation 3’s has quite a few solid downloadable games already, but after a few hours with Cuboid, it’s clear that the list is about to get one game longer.
Cuboid is a pretty simple game. The player guides a rectangular block (the cuboid) through a course made of stone tiles, and tries to make it to the goal with as few moves a possible. The block can move end over end when vertical, and can also roll when laid down horizontally. Flip or roll too far, and you’re going to fall right off the edge of the level. The Beginner difficulty yields 30 puzzles, with an additional three maps that ramp up the difficulty by limiting the amount of movements you can use. Expert difficulty, which consists of an additional thirty boards and three bonus levels, takes off the kid gloves forcing you to get maximum usage of your cranial compatriot. The opening puzzles for both difficulty modes rely on the same basic principles of rectangular rotation to achieve victory, but before long, you’ll be introduced to game changers like wood tiles, bridge switches, and teleporters.
The wood tiles can’t support the full weight of the cuboid, requiring players to lay it down across two tiles before trying to move across them, otherwise the tile breaks, sending the cuboid into oblivion. Bridge switches come in two flavors: regular and weighted. The regular switches only require you to pass over them in order to activate, while the weighted ones require you to stand the cuboid upright on top of them in order to be activated. These may not sound all that exciting or difficult to master, and they’re not, that’s part of the charm, but when combined together, these two additions to the puzzle solving element take a board to another exciting level. Teleporters, on the other hand, make my brain hurt, and not in a good way like the rest of the game. Once you land the cuboid in a teleporter, it splits in half, and you then have to guide the two pieces through a puzzle and reunited them before you reach the goal. Keep in mind that by the time you reach teleporters, there are a plethora of wood tiles and bridge switches adorning the puzzle. I’m all for complexity, but when my frustration leads to me turning the game off, it’s just not that fun anymore. Granted, with enough time and effort (and patience) put in, beating one of the higher difficulty puzzles is extremely satisfying. Just finishing one of the last few puzzles alone should release enough pleasure endorphins into your brain; you’ll practically be high. It’s quite a feeling.
Production values on Cuboid are surprisingly good. While the graphics won’t blow you away, you’d have a hard time finding a downloadable game that looked as nice. The textures are good, and even though the camera is set back in an isometric view, you can see plenty of details on the boards and the cuboid itself. The sound design delivers some pretty good sound effects, in addition to a nice serene score that I guarantee you’ll find yourself humming from time to time.
My only qualms with Cuboid lie in the replay department. Once you finish the game, which, depending on how skilled you are, can take anywhere from a weekend to a week, the only reason you have to go back and play again is to top your own score, or place higher on the leaderboards. There’s absolutely zero multiplayer, so even playing with a friend becomes nothing more than a time trial. For 66 puzzles though, you certainly can’t beat the price of $10, even if you do happen to beat it in a weekend.
Cuboid does a nice job giving PlayStation 3 owners one more “must have” downloadable game on the console. There’s a ton of challenge there if your brain is up to it. The game is perfect for those times when you’ve only got a few minutes to kill, and you want to play a game. It’s certainly not going to replace Tetris or Lumines in the puzzle game hierarchy, but Cuboid definitely belongs on the same court.