Puzzle games went away for a little while, but after some time, they started to make a resurgence, once again we wanted to test our brainpower against a problem. In returning, this genre we saw many types, most of these follow strict stories that we get captivated by such as the Professor Layton series and offer puzzles as a part of their gameplay. Other series, however have opted to do simple brain puzzles to help refresh our minds, the type I prefer, however is the difficult kind, ones that test your mind and push you to breaking point. These types of puzzle games are the most satisfying and the best part is that they aren't always what they seem.
As an example of this Kyub is a deceptive game, for those who have not seen the trailer or read anything into this game you would be easily mistaken into thinking this was a carefree adventure about a simple cube solving light puzzles. Certainly the visuals give this appeal, they are reasonably adorable and look like something thrown together in an hour, but this is simply the way Kyub wants to present itself, it looks cute and like it’s a good time but within minutes (take this as a personal experience) you want to tear your hair out.
Simplicity strikes again, once more developers have taken a novel and simple idea about a cube trying to get from point A, to point B, and built a truly devious, and (dare I say) evil puzzle game. In a sense, I could not help but be drawn back to a simple game by Two Tribes called Edge that was about a cube trying to get to the end of several devious levels, yet Edge seems like nothing when I look at Kyub. This game is prettier, it is more deceptive in its challenges, and admittedly, Edge felt like I had a chance, call it clever level design but Kyub is exactly what you want in a brain teaser, you don’t always feel like you have a chance.
Kyub features around eighty levels for you to complete, with four worlds housing a collection of levels, and as I said, each level looks simplistic but in truth they are deviously challenging. Now I admit the first three levels seem like a breeze when you begin playing, despite stupid mistakes such as knocking the joystick in the wrong direction these levels provided a moment of fresh air to learn the basics and some of the ideas that were coming my way. However, at about the fourth level of the first world, suddenly I was seeing that steep difficulty curve that showed the deception of the early game. Suddenly there were lasers everywhere, or puzzles that took a certain amount of brain power to complete.
This made things really interesting as early as the first world of Kyub, already I was struggling with the many devious puzzles that the game threw at me, but this helped me get excited. The game barely gives you a chance to breath and it throws out the next big development, over a couple of levels. It plays with one idea, then quickly it will throw in a level to introduce a whole new idea. These ideas are simple, but each is very devious, the most common trick is timing your movements which are split second decisions you have to make before you will get blasted by a laser. However, the more commonly used puzzles involve manoeuvring a magnetic block through a tricky path to get it to a button, or using a block to defend against lasers, these are trickier than you might think, on one puzzle I died about fifty times before I finally worked out the solution which involved carefully and quickly moving my blocks.
Yet the troubles don’t stop there, Kyub quickly forced me to get familiar with my Xbox One controller in sections that required me to press the correct letter button to move myself along a magnetic wall, some of these requiring you to move very quickly. Combine this with magnetic block puzzles as well as lasers (yes, both of these happened pretty early in) and this was an absolute nightmare that really tested how fast I could think and move to avoid any lasers as I moved to the appropriate side. Fortunately the puzzles did not just end there, whenever I started to get comfortable and thought that Kyub had nothing left to throw my way, a brand new puzzle type would come my way. This really forced me to keep trying and never let myself get too comfortable with a single idea as that was the first step to getting messed around.
Across the eighty levels of the game there are multiple goals of which we are asked to achieve, in order to progress reaching these goals, they're not necessary, but admittedly achieving this does make you feel good and offers a certain amount of replay value. The set goal for each level is to achieve a certain time to beat the level, only dying so many times, collecting all the stars (I’ll explain that shortly), and for a personal challenge, how many moves it takes to reach the goal. Admittedly, many of these goals are so far from achievable at least from my perspective, there are some levels that can take over half an hour to beat and the game wants you to beat that level in usually around three minutes. It is all possible, but very difficult, and I am glad that the developers didn’t decide to have this as a factor in progressing through the game.
How you progress through Kyub is actually simple, throughout each level there are stars hidden throughout, some of these are in obscure and difficult to reach places, others are all about how quick you can be. All three worlds that follow along from the original one are unlocked by how many stars you have collected, for the first world this is actually simple, but the placement of these stars gets less obvious and brain teasing the further you progress. This was a good system to encourage exploration and to force us to think and it often made me not worry about other goals when I would risk my Kyub’s life to collect a hard to get star.
As I played through Kyub’s many levels, there was a constant frustration that occurred, with each level that passed, I wanted to stop playing, a voice in the back of my head kept telling me not to torture myself any longer, yet I kept playing. The reason for this is, as frustrating as this game is there is nothing like the sense of satisfaction that I got from pulling through a seemingly impossible level. To give an indication of just how much trouble I had, just in the first world, I died around ninety times in one level, and it took me over forty minutes just to pass to the end. In level 1-16 I died over one hundred times and I spent over an hour trying to make my way through the level, yet I put up with such torture, but this is all part of the game's addictive quality.
The thing is, despite this level of satisfaction, this is one game that I find hard to ever tell anyone to play, there are some great puzzles, but I feel many would simply struggle too much to ever find the same level of satisfaction. Yet in the same breath, I can’t help but say that Kyub needs to be played, this game is torture, but this is also one of the more rewarding games I have ever played and like many other games I have played recently, simplicity helps it shine.
Review copy supplied by Ninja Egg