Cubicity Review

by on November 27, 2013

Why is it that a physics puzzler can’t just come out and be delightful nowadays without being so obviously in Portal’s debt? I get that Cubicity is full of boxes that look suspiciously like the chunks featured in Valve’s seminal puzzler, but to hand you a portal shooting gun at the start of the second chapter? It’s not big, and it’s not clever.

Well actually it’s very clever, technically speaking, but I’m talking about feelings. My feelings. At least Cubicity doesn’t pile on the cake jokes…

I get inspirations, I really do, but Cubicity is a game with a pretty lacklustre personality as it is. To hinge an early point of interest on ‘Oh look it’s just like Portal game!’ Doesn’t help, it just makes me think of that game. And that’s a shame because, while Cubicity may not be bursting with verve and charisma, its core gameplay is definitely satisfying in a peculiar way.

Cubicity review

In Cubicity you play a poor guy who dived down a man hole and found himself suspended in mid-air, in a mad scientist’s lab, armed with only a magnet gun. This gun is enough to manipulate the many cubes below him, and it’s your job to move left and right and get the black cube into the marked area to move on to the next puzzle, as these are the locks for the lab’s doors.

As the game goes on you’ll unlock extra tools, such as the aforementioned portal gun, and these add extra layers to the single screen puzzles. Cubicity isn’t the longest game, lasting around an hour and a half, but it’s smart, for sure.

While playing Cubicity I frequently found myself thinking ‘Oh right! I’ve got to do that!’ Which is my certified, and highly scientific ‘is this a good puzzle game’ test. The next step of the test is the execution, and while Cubicity wasn’t 100% successful, it came through in the green.

Cubicity review screen

Niggle number one, it’s possible to ‘fail’ a test in Cubicity, but you have to know you’ve failed. A quick tap of R will reset a stage, but this means that you need to be good enough to read when you’ve lost it. The best puzzle games don’t really have a fail state, or they’ll do the maths for you and automatically restart, so this is a bit of a shame.

The next element that reduced execution score was that of manipulation. Considering that you’re hanging above the stage it can be a tricky task to manipulate the cubes and objects you’re using to solve the puzzles. Image trying to construct a LEGO set but you’re only allowed to drop the pieces into place from a height, and the model is sat on ice. Cubicity isn’t quite that bad, thankfully, but it’s a good enough metaphor for the frustration.

Then there’s turning objects. If you find something is the wrong way round you have to do a ‘pick up, drop, pick up, drop, pick up, drop’ thing to spin it, which is far from ideal. The game doesn’t use the up button, but it uses the left, right and down keys, perhaps adding a ‘hold up and left to rotate’ command would improve this aspect?


These three points said, they’re all completely workable. None of them hamper the game in a drastic way, they’re more just irritating itches that you’ll need to scratch from time to time. The puzzles here are smart enough that, should you accept its deficiencies, Cubicity comes out as an entertaining and satisfying physics puzzler.

Working out how to throw a cube to chink a key (encased in wood and thus resistant to your magnet gun) perfectly into the goal. Realising you need to lay a slate at an angle so you can ‘slide’ a key through a portal towards a goal. Assembling blocks in an L shape so you can correctly balance the key into the goal. It’s all solid, fist-pump inducing grey matter tickling, and it’s perfectly fine most of the time. Later stages can be a pain – particularly after the introduction of hazards – but it’s not too bad, and a handful of achievements will add another bit of playtime for anyone who’s really loving the bungee block manipulation.

VERDICT: Cubicity may come up a little short in the looks and personality stakes, but for what it lacks in eye candy and originality it makes up for in brain power. Physics puzzling is the name of the game and for the hour or two that it lasts, Cubicity offers a pleasant workout for the mind that’s slightly frustrating, but full of enough eureka moments to make it worthwhile.


DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.

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Review code provided by publisher.