Qbeh-1:The Atlas Cube Review

Qbeh-1Atlas-Logo

Knowing nothing about Qbeh-1 going in to it I was very pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful, enchanting puzzle game before me. Developed by Liquid Flower, it’s a follow up to their four level student project Qbeh. The game is broken in to five stages with six levels a piece. The level’s themselves are built from cubes and float in the sky, not dissimilar to the PS1 classic Kula World. The object of the game is simple, as are the controls. Escape each level via the exit.

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The main crux of the puzzling is the gaming equivalent of crossing a stream using stepping stones and planks to form a safe path. In this case the planks take the form of special cubes that you pick up with left trigger and place at predefined points with the right. You can then build a bridge attaching further cubes to those previously placed.t just leave used cubes behind. Like all good puzzle games the premise is simple but leads to more complicated solutions as the game progresses. Additional cubes that work as switches, lifts or manipulate gravity add further complication. Having said this the puzzles gave me none of the head scratching moments found in Portal for example.

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As I played though, it become clear this game doesn’t really work for me as a tough puzzler. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it though. Accompanying the gentle puzzling is a beautiful ambient soundtrack and combined with cloud filled sky boxes demonstrating some beautiful vistas it can become an almost Zen like, meditative experience. With just enough thought required to keep you pushing forward.

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There are some frustrations however. On a couple of occasions I actually missed save points as they were tucked away and I wasn’t looking in the right direction, causing me to repeat sections after an accidental stumble off the edge of the level. When it comes to graphics things are rather uncomplicated so it was a surprise and disappointment to see the frame rate dropping repeatedly throughout my play through. Also whilst the game supports a gamepad the menus can only be controlled by the mouse, which whilst perhaps a bit picky was annoying.

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It perhaps outstays its welcome a little, having pushed the mechanics about as far as they could go by the end of the fourth stage. The choppy frame rate also suggests a small team biting off a bit more than they can chew or running out of time to polish before release. Having said that, what they have achieved is very enjoyable if you’re looking for something different. Although I don’t have access to one (yet) the game also supports Oculus Rift and I imagine this would be a perfect experience for virtual reality. So for those looking for a real brain teaser are best looking elsewhere but if you fancy a break from the battlefields of AAA gaming then this is the perfect antidote.

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