Game Review: Cubetractor

You control a little, blue robot around fields inhabited by turrets and enemy robots. The aim of each level is to pull, push and crush such beings to progress.

Getting into it

cubetractor-02The first several missions are tutorials that are good for getting an understanding of the controls and what the various items are that you’ll come across. Before each level it shows a screen titled “encountered tech” which reveals what robots and buildings you’re going to be up against.

Early on, the levels are mostly about thinking and planning to solve each puzzle. After a few levels I had to set my gamepad up instead of the keyboard controls it announces in-game. I found that using a gamepad was a must, especially as I progressed to later levels where reflexes became more of an issue. It would be nice if the game declared the use of a gamepad or provided the option to configure it.

The graphics

The game design is very 16-bit retro-esque and feels right at home with my Mega Drive gaming days. The game looks a bit stretched on my 22-inch wide-screen monitor, making me long for a HD version. That may be hoping for too much when it’s an indie game by two developers on a budget. If Cubetractor does well enough (and so it should) maybe such a feature will exist in a sequel.

The game-play

Cubetractor is great for a few minutes of gaming every now and again and just as great for those who want to stick it out for a few hours to punish their mind and mechanics. The difficulty scales very smoothly, so you won’t be coming across a level that completely stumps you with new concepts.

For the most part, the game is appropriate for casual gamers. The latter levels though are for those who like game-play that’s frustratingly difficult, if you’re that way inclined (Super Meat Boy anyone?). The more normal among us are likely to give up before completing the game fully.

The content

The dialogue through-out the game is amusing, with one-liners sprinkled through-out, showing hints of what the  personalities of the developers are like. Every-time a level is completed, it displays “nicely done”, which is a phrase you don’t hear often. And the odd statement appears that jokingly justifies aspects of the game, such as why the robot protagonist has big, red lips!?

There are 40 maps in all, providing multiple levels, with each of them taking several minutes to complete. For £6.61 (~$10), you definitely get a lot of quality gaming time for your money. Especially if you like giving that muscle in your head a bit of a work-out, alongside a moderate test of your reflexes. For the price, you get a DRM-free PC and Mac version of the game and a Steam key to give to a friend.

Just a thought

cubetractor-01I can’t help but imagine a modified version of the game that would be great for mobile and tablet devices. Though admittedly the controls would need to be thought out for touch-screen and the levels re-made to be suitable for smaller screens.

The good

  • Simple controls with a smooth learning scale and deceptively challenging game-play later on.
  • Nostalgic retro graphics and concepts.
  • Plenty of quality gaming for your money. DRM-free for Mac and PC. Comes with a Steam key.

The bad

  • Difficulty eventually scales into the unworldly which may frustrate casual gamers trying to fully complete it.
  • No game-pad declaration or configuration, even though using a game-pad is needed to fully enjoy the game.

And finally…

To purchase Cubetractor directly from the developers, visit their site at www.ludochip.com

Update – 5th September 2013

It looks like they’re listening to their fans and planning on introducing new features such as multi-player (Co-op would be great) and HD graphics. With HD it will be interesting to see what direction they go in for the art-style.

Ross

This post was written by Ross. A self-employed digital marketer/web developer in Devon, UK. He likes tea, curries and video-gaming.