The Last Cube (Xbox Series S) Review

Six-sided three-dimensional puzzling
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The Last Cube, developed and published by Improx Games, is a tough but enjoyable cube-based puzzler that some might find a little too linear and rigid in design. Unexpectedly, there’s a large amount of lore for a game about a cube traversing a cubic world. It’s all optional and buried in text logs – unlocked by collecting secrets hidden in each zone – but this narrative layer provides context for those that want it.

The cube – newly forged and given life by ancient relics – must restore a six-sided cube planet. Each side represents both a natural element (think water, fire, earth, light) and an associated state of mind (calmness, passion etc.). The cube needs to complete each challenge and find enlightenment before emerging to join cube society. The narrative premise is weird but also intriguing and it kept me focused on secret-hunting throughout.

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The cube planet is wonderfully – if illogically – diverse.

Of course, the primary draw of The Last Cube is the puzzles. Many basics – such as rolling around or lining up to activate a switch – are either simple or assisted, so as not to waste your time on repetitive elements. As an example, if you’ve got the appropriate sticker (more on that in a bit), you have the option to use “cube sense”. This reveals the correct path that will result in the right surface of your cube in contact with a switch. That may seem excessive for a game focused on three-dimensional puzzles, but The Last Cube has more interesting ways to challenge you.

A central hub provides access to the six sides of the cube planet – each with three named zones that hint at the puzzle focus in each – but you tackle them sequentially, the order dictated by the developers and their evolving puzzles. Each location introduces a new “sticker” that you can imprint on any side of the cube. They provide new abilities – beyond simply triggering complementary switches – that include: rotating on the spot, dashing under low barriers, moving diagonally on the edge of the cube, and creating a clone cube (which can, in turn, imprint or transfer stickers, and use their respective abilities in tandem with the primary cube).

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Sticker types and their respective abilities are introduced in introductory zones before the complexity is quickly ramped up.

Puzzles start simple, both conceptually and in complexity, as you aim to match stickers with switches, opening the way forward. That basic structure persists but getting the right sticker (or stickers) on your cube and getting back to the switch becomes a challenge thanks to increasingly devious, multi-part obstacles you must circumvent. There are water puddles that erase stickers on any side that comes in contact; traps that erase all stickers on the cube when you move through them; blocks that require the right ability to destroy; light beam triggered switches, bridges, and lifts – all within the first half of the game.

As you progress, simple spatial puzzles evolve into convoluted roadblocks that require an exact sequence of actions to overcome. Early puzzles might simply demand you plan your movement to avoid erasing a sticker on the way to a switch. Subsequent puzzles introduce intermediate steps, like secondary switches that force you to juggle multiple abilities. Push on and you’ll find yourself sending out a clone to acquire a sticker, copy it onto an automated cube running along a track, toggle switches to route said cube back towards you, transfer that sticker onto another clone, then finally transfer it to your primary cube to progress.

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Before long, you’ll need to juggle clone cubes and multiple abilities.

If you’re a fan of these games, that last paragraph should be all the knowledge you need. If, however, you’re on the fence, there is an important caveat to consider. Despite the ever-expanding set of abilities and increasing complexity, puzzles in The Last Cube only have one correct solution and you complete them in a linear order. Sure, there are some “optional” activities, like hunting for secrets in each zone and tackling bonus stages, but the bulk of your playtime is a methodical experience with no room for creative solutions.

On the upside, even if progress feels one-note, the presentation does a great job of injecting diversity. Each zone superimposes distinctly artificial, cubic constructions with more natural backdrops to great effect. The first water-themed zone uses various shades of blues, a watery backdrop, and channels a cold but calm atmosphere. In contrast, the trip through the forge offers deep reds, a radiant, fiery magma backdrop, and a tense atmosphere. The visuals may not be the most technically advanced – though the particle effects do look cool – but they do a solid job of creating striking and surreal environments when coupled with a fantastic, albeit often subdued electronic soundtrack. My only gripe was the twitchy camera whenever you move into an enclosed space (rare but notable if you’re secret hunting).

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It may not be the most technically impressive game but The Last Cube always looks striking thanks to its angular designs and use of colour to guide the player.

Unfortunately – on the Xbox Series S at any rate – The Last Cube had a persistent and frustrating technical issue. Whenever I made any significant progress – think transitioning into a new puzzle area or collecting a secret – the game would game freeze up for 2-3 seconds. It never occurred within a discrete puzzle area and had no major gameplay limitations, but it ruined the fluidity of the experience. Given the limited visual complexity, otherwise flawless performance, and tiny install size (only 2GB), it might be related to an autosave bug [EDIT: it is and is being addressed by the developer].

Given the technical issues seem hardware-specific, The Last Cube is easy to recommend to those that enjoy methodically tackling a sequence of increasingly complex puzzles. Sure, it’s strictly linear and the progression feels formulaic, but the puzzles feel smartly designed, can always be solved through simple observation, and they provide you with a sense of satisfaction when you finally figure them out.

A Review code for The Last Cube was provided to Gameblur by the Publisher

The Last Cube (Xbox Series S) Review

The Last Cube (Xbox Series S) Review
7 10 0 1
7/10
Total Score
  • Story
    6/10 Normal
    Inessential but there's a narrative layer buried in text logs for those that want it.
  • Gameplay
    8/10 Very Good
    Tons of cubic fun but progression is formulaic and there's only ever one solution to any puzzle
  • Visuals
    7/10 Good
    Angular designs, particle effects, and the smart use of colour make for some striking enviornments.
  • Audio
    7/10 Good
    Subdued in general but the soundtrack is great and adds to the atmosphere.

The Good

  • Hours of increasingly complex puzzles with bonus levels and secrets to find
  • Striking environments and an atmospheric soundtrack
  • Player assists for some basic actions

The Bad

  • Single-solution puzzles with no room for creativity
  • Twitchy camera behaviour in enclosed spaces
  • Stutters on the Xbox Series S (thankfully not affecting general gameplay)
Total
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