Don't be a square.
Cubot is one of thousands of mobile games being given the console treatment, some of which succeed in their transition while others fold like a cheap port. Developed by NicoplvGames, a green as grass mobile developer that you’re unlikely to have caught wind about, this game is thankfully the former, because like so many great mobile-originated games, it keeps things simple and lets you know exactly what you’re in for with its subtitle, The Complexity of Simplicity.
Cubot is a minimalist puzzle game that, like a Rubix cube, is simple in its design but incredibly difficult to decipher. The game starts you off on a multi-squared grid layered against a white backdrop, and a single cube to move around. This devoid purgatory is the first of 8 introductory levels in the game’s opening episode. The purpose of each stage is to move your cube onto its matching coloured square. Sounds easy enough, but you soon find yourself dealing with depth.
What begins as astoundingly easy becomes increasingly taxing as each new mechanic the game acquaints you with adds another dimension of obstacles. Moving three blocks at once can be a headache. Moving three blocks that move in different directions or a different number of spaces can become mentally numbing, but thankfully none of Cubot’s challenge transcends its simplicity. The game is presented as so basic, that you refuse to believe it’s anything but, and eventually will crack each of its puzzles with the auditory help of the relaxing soundtrack and ‘tabula rasa’ aesthetic.
While Cubot is a delightfully therapeutic novelty, it’s also one that breaks one of its only modes of control. A rewind feature is built into the game, allowing you to play around more easily without being heavily penalized for accidentally moving a block too many spaces, just to have to re-align those two other blocks all over again. The only peeve here is that this feature is mapped to the ‘A’ button. By now, you may have guessed that I like to nitpick controls like it’s my job, but it’s only because controls are such an intuitive part of playing the game. Mapping the ‘A’ button to move backward makes about as much sense to our highly trained gaming minds as mapping the left trigger to jump (check out our reviews of Mad Max and Lovely Planet). Throwing in a ‘forward’ option as well could have made the experience more fluid, as the feature itself also doesn’t flow as well as you’d hope, feeling jerky in its time-tempered regression.
Cubot is also not the most replayable bit of IP that’s come out of the woodwork recently. As you progress through each stage, the game will chart your score and compare it to the ‘High Score’, but there’s one fundamental flaw with the scoring system here. The ‘High Score’ is literally just that, the best possible run, or in other words, completing a level in the least amount of moves possible. But once you finish a level in the lowest amount of moves, and by association claim that coveted high score, there’s nothing left for you to do with that stage. You’ve cracked its code. This means that once you get through the few hours it will take you to get through each episode, and rack up those juicy achievements, you’ve exhausted Cubot’s offerings.
A review code of Cubot was provided courtesy of Xbox. The game was reviewed on Xbox One.
Aside from a short-lived solitary component and a quirky control scheme, Cubot is one of the most enjoyable challenging puzzle games released in a while. Much of what makes it challenging without becoming frustrating is its calming visual style and soundtrack – if you can call mellow tones a soundtrack – and while you may get stuck and give up frequently, your controller will be spared the dreaded wall ricochet. That is to say, the challenge offered by Cubot is never unfair, and an easy recommendation for those looking for those easy and light intervals between serious gaming sessions.