The tagline for Cubot is The Complexity of Simplicity and that’s the very core of the game. Cubot is a 3D puzzle game cut back to its bare bones, and then given a shave. There are no whistles and bells here, but there doesn’t really need to be. At its very foundation the game is nothing more than a simple cube rolling puzzle game, a bit like a Rubik’s Cube that’s been opened up.
As simple as it may seem, the game’s tagline includes complexity and that’s where Cubot really excels. The simple three dimensional boards become mental torture chambers on some levels, with the solution seeming so close but just out of reach. Something so cute and simple should not be this complicated! But it is, and this game will demand all of your grey cells to triumph.
The main premise of the game is to roll different coloured cubes around a board made up of squares. Each cube has a square on the board of a matching colour. The goal of the game is to move each coloured cube onto its corresponding square. As is so often the case something that sounds so simple does in fact conceal a catch. In Cubot‘s case, several catches.
The first is that you can’t just move a single cube, and the second is that different coloured cubes behave differently. Rapidly your brain starts to hurt as you try to decipher how moving that cube one square will impact the rest of the board. For example, with blue cubes moving one square at a time, red ones moving two, and green ones moving in the opposite direction, a single move can make sweeping changes to the board. One wrong move can spell disaster for your strategy. You need to think about every element carefully each time you move.
There is verticality, too – opening up the chance that one wrong move could see a cube plummeting over the edge. And that’s game over if you didn’t intend for that to happen; there’s often no way to get a fallen cube back up to a higher plane – Sir Isaac Newton says gravity doesn’t work that way.
Handily you can restart the level at any time – and you can also go back one move if you realise that you’ve made a mistake. You will likely be doing both frequently. Some levels have lifts that help you traverse between the different vertical planes; lifts need to be activated by pressing a certain coloured button with the right coloured cube. More thoughtful planning needed!
While your thought processes get very complex very quickly, the rest of the game is presented very simply. There is no background to distract you – the game board is simply floating in a clear white space allowing your camera to roam through 360 degrees around all sides of the board to help you plan your moves. The soundtrack is a soothing one that never changes. This was a stroke of genius – puzzle games can frustrate and induce rage, but here the gentle music keeps you focused and calm, like a nice cup of sweet tea.
There’s also no start menu, and there’s really no need for one. When you start the game you simply pick your Xbox profile and off you go. It’s a bit disconcerting – we thought the first puzzle was an introductory screen and sat waiting for something to happen until we realised that we were already in the game!
New features and challenges unlock as you progress – for example, ledges to fall from, or a different coloured cubes. Each new feature comes with a simple pictorial by way of explanation, and that’s it. You’re on your own.
Cubot starts off simply enough to ease you in, and the levels aren’t too challenging – but this changes quickly. As more variables come into play levels get more challenging and it’s not long before your initial thought on encountering each new level is that a solution is impossible. It never is, though, but finding it is a real test.
Sometimes, you just won’t find the solution – but fear not, help is at hand. Rather than have you permanently stuck part way through the game, you can use Cubot Tokens to pay for a solution. You receive one token for every level you complete. Buying a solution this way allows the game to play out the level on which you are stuck using the minimum number of moves. It’s a neat solution that allows you to progress even if you become really stuck.
There are eighty levels to play through, split up into different chapters. Each chapter introduces a new feature, like a different coloured cube. There’s easily several hours of gameplay here, and if you are so inclined you can replay levels to try to beat your own best score. When you finish each level the game shows you how many moves it took for you to solve the puzzle, along with your score and the minimum number of moves needed for a perfect solution. This gives real replay value as you try to cut down your number of moves – especially when you end up making many more moves than necessary because of a simple miss-step early on.
Costing just £1.59 from the Xbox store Cubot would be a good buy for anyone wanting to kill a few hours. You will be challenged, you will become frustrated but when you complete the more difficult levels the sense of achievement is immense. Costing less than a cup of coffee, this game will last considerably longer and will have you coming back just to prove that you are better than that level you just can’t get past.
Watch a short video of us playing Cubot – The Complexity of Simplicity.
A great puzzle game at an unbelievable price. Grab it.
Cubot – the Complexity of Simplicity is a simple puzzle game that gets incredibly complex. The simple design of the game makes it a beautiful experience to play and it’s a game that can easily suck you in. Costing only £1.59 it will keep you entertained for at least a couple of hours.