Qbeh – 1: The Atlas Cube Review

Ever since I’ve started reviewing indie games, there is one genre that I really seem to enjoy. I get really immersed in First-Person Puzzle-Adventure games, such as Niko: Through the Dream and Cradle. These games offer a relaxing experience and make me almost forget everything and spend hours playing them. They are usually accompanied by amazing soundtracks which add even more value to the overall experience. Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube is, of course, no exception. An amazing first person puzzle game, prequel to the original Qbeh, which deals with cubes, puzzles and a lot of platforming!

The game features six cubic worlds, each with 6 levels, one for every face of the cube. All levels are set on structures made of cubes on the sky with no land to be seen above or below them. Our goal is to reach the white portal at the end of the level. In order to reach our goal, we have to utilize some special, colored cubes which are found spread and hidden in various places in each level. The more cubes we collect, the more choices we have to plan our next steps. Some cubes can only be used as stepping stones, others feature magical powers such as a gravity defying field and some are required to unlock doors. Cubes can only be placed on special yellow colored blocks or adjacent to each other and when we remove the first cube, all those that are attached to it are removed too, so care must be taken when trying to build structures to move between gaps or climb up walls.

Each world features new and different mechanics and adds more types of cubes to our collection. We will find levels with fans that push us off the structures and others which will require correct placement of the gravity defying cubes in order to cross big gaps. The difficulty gets progressively harder, requiring more thought before placing cubes and the levels last much longer the more we progress in the game. Sometimes we will be left looking at the walls without knowing what to do or facepalming for the silly mistakes we did. Pro tip: Never miss a checkpoint, because if you fall down or manage to get crushed by a closing door (You know I did!), you will lose much of your valuable progress in the level. The checkpoints are the owl-like statues which light up and open their wings when we approach them and sometimes are hidden, so be an explorer and track down those checkpoints!

Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing indie games I have ever experienced. I am a big fan of the minimalistic style, which gives more prominence to the core elements of the game such as the cubes, while in doesn’t take away much from the setting. The levels are well polished and the shading work makes the environment much more believable and immersive, even though the setting is rather surreal. You know, floating structures made out of big cubes. I really enjoyed the transition of the skybox through the levels. Its starts off in daylight and progresses through the night and dawn. The night levels inspire a mystical and occult feeling, and at the darkest of the dark places you feel that something is stalking you the shadows. The dawn levels come with a relief and a sense of catharsis, while the water levels make you feel calm and relaxed.

All these feelings are greatly enhanced and accentuated by the soundtrack of the game. The music is very similar to the music of Niko: Through the Dream, something which made me feel a bit nostalgic even though I played Niko very recently. The music fits each level and each setting, but overall it features a calm and relaxed vibe. I can say with ease that this soundtrack gets in the list of my favorites. You can listen to the entire OST of the game on Youtube and purchase it on Bandcamp.

The game also features a level editor, where we can create our own levels and share them with other people through Steam Workshop. However, when I attempted to create a level I found that the editor itself is not that user friendly and is kind of hard to use. I had been expecting something along the lines of placing cubes just like the main game. The tools it offers are limited and it is very tedious and time consuming to place blocks. I believe it is great idea to offer a level editor to the players, but at the same time I am of the opinion that the editor itself should be intuitive and easy to use, just like the game.

Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube can be found on Steam for 8,99€, which is a value for money in my opinion.


Verdict

An overall great puzzle game, which proves to be quite the challenge, Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube manages to impress us both in terms of gameplay as well as aesthetics. The incredible soundtrack gives a great finishing touch and creates a truly atmospheric experience. The only point we feel that needs improvement is the in game level editor, which is a great idea but not well executed.


+Incredible soundtrack
+Challenging puzzles
+Very polished environments
Poorly made level editor

Score: 8,5/10

Dimitris “Onel” Zarachanis