Cubikolor isn’t the first puzzle game with a focus on moving colourful 3D blocks, and it likely won’t be the last.
Whilst it mainly succeeds in doing what it sets out to do, it’s far from the best example of a lateral-thinking puzzle game, and its relatively high asking price is enough to stop it being a worthy addition to your collection.
As soon as I loaded up Cubikolor on my Xbox One, I was instantly reminded of another puzzle game I’d recently played: Cubot – Complexity of Simplicity. Both games require you to move colourful cubes around a 3D grid in order to reach a goal. The mechanics are slightly different however – Cubot has you moving multiple cubes at the same time, whilst Cubikolor focuses on moving a single cube in order to utilise the different colours on each of its sides. Their aesthetic and gameplay are strikingly similar though, to the point that Cubikolor feels very derivative. Considering that Cubot can be purchased from the Xbox Store for a grand total of £1.59 and Cubikolor is asking for £6.39 of your hard-earned cash, there just isn’t enough here to warrant the massive price difference.
Cubikolor has a very simple premise: you control a cube with six differently coloured sides. Your goal is to successfully guide the cube to various “unlock” points to end the level. Early levels have just one unlock point, but as you progress and the difficulty ramps up, levels may have several points that all need to be unlocked to be completed. Each level is a 3D map made out of cubes; you can traverse the environment by moving up, down, left and right, and you can also ascend or descend by using colour-activated lifts. This is the main mechanic of the game: coloured squares act as lifts, and if you land on them with the same colour touching you’ll move up; if a different colour is touching, you’ll move down. Cubikolor is all about planning your moves to ensure the coloured faces of your cube are in the right position to get where you want. It soon gets complicated, and later levels require a lot of forward thinking to plan out your moves.
There are plenty of levels to work your way through, and whilst generally speaking the difficulty ramps up as you progress, some levels are much easier than others. New mechanics are added as you go along, but overall, it all feels rather samey and gets repetitive very quickly. It doesn’t help that success largely relies on a lot of trial and error, although you can undo your moves at any time and can restart the level at the press of a button. At the end of each level you’re graded with a medal, and those seeking the elusive gold will need to complete each level without using any undos. Some levels also ramp up the challenge by adding certain limitations: sometimes you may be racing against the clock; other times you may have a set number of moves to make before it’s game over. Although these levels can get very frustrating, they’re probably the most fun in the game as they add a much-needed layer of tension to an otherwise mundane experience.
The puzzles in Cubikolor may be enjoyable to those of you who really like to give your brain a good workout, but where the game falls down is on its presentation and delivery. The game tries to tell a basic story, but it’s very unnecessary and badly written; if ever there was an example of a game genre that doesn’t require any overarching narrative, then this is it. The controls leave a lot to be desired too; you use your analogue stick to guide your block in any direction, but as you have complete control over the angle you view your block from, the directional input does not always match up. It often takes a lot of unnecessary adjusting of the camera before your block will react in the way you want it to.
If Cubikolor was about half its asking price on the store, then it may be worth picking up if you’re looking for a new brainteaser to sink your teeth into. As it stands though, there are plenty of other games available that offer a better and broader challenge – and in some cases, at a much cheaper price. Looking past its poor presentation and annoying control issues, Cubikolor can be entertaining in short bursts, but to anybody but the most ardent puzzle game fan, it soon gets frustrating and repetitive.