Cubeworks

Cubeworks is a 3D puzzle game designed to test a player's spatial capabilities and quickness.  This game requires you to bring your A game each time you play.  By grabbing differently designed blocks and altering their orientations to line up and fit together you can create chain reactions that propel you to victory.  A new goal is specified for each round and regardless of challenge, whether it is achieve a high score, combine all blocks or finish a speed round, you will be tested immensely in this fast-paced brain buster of a PSVR title. 

Quick Facts

Game Style: 3D Puzzle
Game Length: 1 hour+ (if you can even beat it)
Controller: 2 Motion Controllers
Price: $9.99
PSVR Score: 6

Cubeworks has been one of the harder games to review in my career due to the fact that when reviewing one must consider the difference between the concept itself and the actual execution of that concept.  Conceptually, I love this game.  A lot.  There isn't really a good puzzle game for the PSVR.  I mean like a Pokemon Puzzle League (on N64) or Tetris Attack (on SNES).  I love these types of games.  I find them addictive, fun, challenging and able to provide something that other games just can't.  When I first played Cubeworks I thought it would be similar, just in VR and almost lost my mind.  Even though I was wrong, I still really liked the idea. 

The basic idea of the game is to connect various cubes together so that the faces that are touching have the same design on them.  This connects the blocks and they explode, earning you points and getting them out of your way so you can concentrate on other cubes.  There are power-ups that you can earn by throwing scrap metal into a bonus bin while you are working on all the cubes.  Also, some levels have pits and endpoints that if any cubes fall off into the pit or reach the end of conveyor belt line you earn a strike.  Three strikes and you're out! 

You begin in a warehouse and are in the basement.  There are 5 levels to this warehouse, each consisting of 5 rounds.  So there are 25 levels of gameplay in the entire game.  You can choose whichever level of the warehouse you want to play, but have to beat the first round before moving onward on that level.  

The concept is very simple and easy to understand but holy crap is this sucker hard.  You can summon any cube toward you by holding the trigger and pointing your move controller at the cube.  Then you have to physically rotate it by moving your hands all types of ways until you see the face and design on the cube that you want then connect the cubes.  Seriously, I would say this is the most difficult PSVR game to date that I have played. 

To succeed in the game requires several things:

  •   Hand eye coordination.  Because you are playing in VR you will be grabbing cubes and rearranging them in your hands to make the cubes fit together based off the designs on each side.  It is one thing to see a 2D block and rearrange its orientation by pressing B or whatever, but to physically do it is a totally different story.  It is more difficult and much more time consuming.  Many times you will be multi-tasking and will be grabbing at air if you don't have the coordination to maneuver several cubes at once while keeping track of which have what designs. 
  • Fast Problem Solving Skills. You have a very limited time to connect blocks to increase your score or defeat a level.  As you are working, there are other blocks on an assembly line moving past you.  So you have to work while also thinking one or two steps ahead to decide whether it is worth putting down the blocks you are currently working with to collect ones that are passing by.  You also need to stay on top of what designs are on each block.  Just because one side is a green circle, the other might be the pink crosses that you need.  The gameplay seems lightning fast because all of this is happening at once and to succeed you have to quickly adjust or you will be left in the dust. 
  • Lightning Fast Quickness and Thinking. Starting on the third level of the warehouse, you will have to make split second decisions and live with them.  Oftentime this will lead to your demise.  More important than your decisions is your ability to readily and quickly manage cubes.  If you cannot put cubes together quickly, move on and continue making pairs then you will surely lose. 

One thing the game does very well is vary the gameplay consistently.  At first glance, I thought the entire game would be the same concept, just there are more blocks, a smaller time limit or other little things to make it more difficult.  Rather, there are a host of different types of games to play.  For example, there are some levels where you just have to connect some amount of blocks, others you have 12 blocks that you have to combine to leave none behind, then others where only blocks connected with a certain face count, then speed rounds where you have to connect so many blocks within a time limit, etc.  I love how they kept the gamer on their heels and varied gameplay.  

The game is only $10 and based off the time it takes to continue in the game and possibly beat it, the value is absolutely fantastic.  The problem, is that this isn't a game you want to be playing for 5 hours.  And if you do it is because you can't beat it and have to replay levels over and over.  Although there are shorter games that are level completion based (like Stardrone VR), Cubeworks is so difficult it is hard to progress.  The good thing is that in many of the levels you just have to play the game and it will allow you to move on.  This sounds very counter-intuitive to gamer culture.  You lose....but still get to move on? They probably did this because it's so hard, but who knows.  I appreciate that regardless. 

As I mentioned, I loved the concept, enjoy the variability in gameplay, think the game is immersive and unique to VR, but the fatal (and I mean fatal) flaw is the controls/difficulty.  These go hand in hand because the game is difficult due to the controls.  And by controls I mean specifically the move controllers.  To be good at Cubeworks you have to look ahead to upcoming cubes, while making decisions about the ones you have, successfully connect the cubes.  This requires fast thinking and very good dexterity.  Unfortunately, precise movements are not the motion controllers strong suit.  The game is way way too difficult.  So difficult that it isn't fun.  

By difficult I don't mean like Ghosts and Goblin hard, where the game is developed to be unfair.  That would be welcomed in my opinion.  This is the hard in which you have two cubes in your hands, mushing them together with the right sides touching, but because they are not exactly in the position the game wants it to be in, doesn't count.  So you waste time and ultimately blocks are piling up, time is running out and this leads to a very stressful and annoying defeat.  

I want to say that it is a wonderful concept, just horribly executed.  But that isn't the case.  The developers did the best they could with what we have.  The technology isn't advanced enough to make this type of game enjoyable and a success yet.  Or maybe, although a great idea, these types of games will never succeed just because they aren't made to be in 3D.  I don't know.  One thing the developers could have done to help is to increase the time it takes before the connected cubes explode. 

To specify, when you connect two correct faces of cubes together, they join and then you get maybe 2 or 3 seconds before they explode to add more blocks.  So in an ideal world, you connect two blocks, see another one in the distance, can grab it and attach it before the first two explode, which gives you more points and helps eliminate more blocks.  However, this is virtually impossible.  I line three of the same blocks up side by side and I still can't get three to connect in the required time.  It is absolutely atrocious how difficult it is.  It makes me want to throw the motion controller through my window.  Either you need to have better controls (possibly by making is a VR 2D game) or give us the required 4 seconds it takes to actually connect these friggin cubes. 

In conclusion, Cubeworks is an immersive puzzle game that shoots for the stars, but comes up short.  Not because the concept, graphics, or atmosphere, but because the gameplay is just so tedious and hard.  Hopefully this is because I am just horrendous at this game (I only have my opinion to go off of), but it is so difficult that it sucks any fun that I could have had away.  If you are a fan of puzzle games and are up to an immense challenge then consider Cubeworks, because you will get a plethora of both.

PlayPSVR Score: 6