Preview: The Last Cube Rocks Your Puzzlin’ Noodle

I love the puzzle genre. There is just something about using a different part of your brain that isn’t used too often that is very satisfying.

If you’re familiar with classic puzzle games like Tetris, Monument Valley, Peggle, or Bejeweled, you’ll pick up and understand the accessible concept of The Last Cube. Don’t feel intimidated.

Environmental puzzle games are a unique sub-genre of the genre. Recent contributions to the genre that I loved playing include The Talos Principle, The Witness, and Pneuma. The Last Cube falls under this category.

With The Last Cube, players control a rolling cube on a playing field to “escape” a level. You escape levels by stamping colored symbols onto one of your cube faces. These symbols are like tools and you need to utilize each symbol’s unique tool set to unlock corresponding locks on the floors of the level.

For instance: in the tutorial level there are blue cross symbols you can stamp on the cube. Once you match the stamped side of your cube onto the matching floor key, it will unlock the exit gate or bridge to an exit gate.

When the blue symbol is face up on the cube it allows you to rotate the cube. The yellow symbol, which allows cube dashing, is introduced in the second area – and you will have to combine blue and yellow abilities in order to unlock your path to press on in the level.

One puzzle level I came across using the blue and yellow symbols involved certain floor tiles stripping your cube of any symbols and wiping them out.

So you need to think about the symbol order needed to unlock the path to the gate, which side you want to start rolling your cube to preserve the correct colored symbols to then unlock the exit.

The game gives you clever ways to accomplish this through its move set. The floor tiles that wipe your cube alternate as “on” or “off” so you need to get the blue symbol stamped first then time the yellow symbol cube dashing in order to cross the danger zone – thus keeping the blue symbol on the cube and unlocking the exit.

And that’s just with 2 abilities.

Imagine the possibilities with up to 6 sides of your cube…6 different symbols…within a 3D space.

From level to level, the game keeps escalating like that with a red symbol and green symbol. The demo, unfortunately, didn’t allow me to play with the green symbol but by the time I got my hands on the red tricks, I can see how complicated this game can get.

Think Portal 2 levels of complexity.

There’s an interesting hub world in which you can explore off the beaten path with your cube, but you need to unlock certain symbols in order to get to once inaccessible areas of the hub.

I played this game on my PC @344fps — it’s a very simple game graphically, so a potato can run it. The music was really good but I don’t think it really stood out.

If there’s a story there, I didn’t find any, unlike with Pnuema or Talos Principle, but I don’t really play puzzle games for their story. From what I played there’s also no multiplayer but, again, would you need it for this? Probably not.

If you’re into single player campaign puzzle games that will probably rock your noodle for a few hours, keep an eye out for The Last Cube. It’s a very mechanically simple game with a high ceiling for complexity.

No official release date yet, but expect it some time this year.

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