Three developers? Cube? Was it made to achieve greatness or to fall square on its face?
Survive! Mr. Cube is a indie title made for the PlayStation 4 by the three developers over at Korean indie dev: Intragames Co. and kicks you straight into a very nice looking and retro-feeling title screen that brings back many fond memories of my gaming childhood. Survive! Mr. Cube kicks you into the game with a nicely designed pane-by-pane scrolling art style accompanied by a text-based story, and here is where my first couple of issues are. The story text is poorly translated and doesn’t entirely make sense unless you are just skim reading and you miss some of the glaring mistakes. My second issue (now I understand this was an issue with my setup) but the sides of the text were cut off on the edges of my screen and I couldn’t see an option to edit the safe zone.. I don’t have this issue with any other game.
The story places you in the role of Mr. Cube, a working man who is madly in love, who stops off in the pub for a drink before returning home to his lady. Things take a turn for the worse when he finds himself talking to a hooded stranger who offers him a pill, and in an almost hypnotic state he accepts, only things go extremely dark very fast. You wake up on a cold floor next to a fire with nothing but yourself, a sword and a portal which seems to be the only path forward. Mr Cube is played from a top-down perspective with very simple to learn controls. The game doesn’t give you a proper tutorial except for basic controls, and there’s no real description of what to do, where to go, or how to progress (which could be quite frustrating for less experienced players). I found this to be a great aspect of the game as you felt exactly like your character would: lost, confused and disorientated. Once Mr. Cube has armed himself with the sword and steps into the portal, you are met with a map covered in the fog of war. As you explore and visit areas, hidden chests are labeled and you can slowly discover where you have to go to progress through the game. But unfortunately, it is not that simple. Throughout the map, you will encounter different enemies that will attack and chase you down on sight; some enemies have ranged attacks only and will attack from afar, some are melee only and will get up close and personal; there are also enemy types that will be able to do both!
The enemies found in Survive! Mr. Cube have different tactics from ranged to melee, constantly keeping you on your toes!
I mentioned earlier about discovering chests. These will be essential to progressing through the later stages (I will cover exactly why later). Once a chest has been discovered you will receive coin and potions. The potions themselves have different effects, for example, strength will allow you to hit harder, an agility potion will allow you to move quicker, and then there are the basic health and attack stamina potions. You can hold four of these, but I would recommend holding at least two health potions at any given time, as you don’t recover health unless using one of these. So, you are hacking and slashing your way through the enemies, slowly getting used to the clunky combat system, and uncovering the map looting chests, but how exactly do you progress? The answer? Towers. Towers will need to be attacked and destroyed to open and unlock the next progression portal, but first you will have to defeat the enemies it calls and avoid the magic balls shooting from it. Every once in a while you will encounter a wanderer and these guys are solid. If you are even slightly under-prepared you will not survive this encounter, but win and you will be greatly rewarded for your efforts with a super powerful weapon, that you can use to smite any other foes who believe them to be worthy of your power (I mean, you did just kill a super powerful opponent!) Worst case scenario you fail and lose all your health, the game will reset you back to the start, and you will spawn in with a new character that, as far as I can tell, is chosen at random with a different look and different weapons to start your adventure again, only there are a few changes this time.
Change one is that a gravestone has appeared. You can dig this grave and retrieve (at random) an item from your fallen character. Change 2 is that a vendor has appeared. All the hard earned coin you have gathered can be used here and you can receive powerful weapons in exchange for gold. Suit up and head back to the battlefield. Should you make it through to the end. you are also reset to the beginning with a fresh character for another run through, keeping your gold. This for me is where the game does become rather stale. There isn’t a huge variety of things to do (unless you are a trophy hunter of course), with same-y enemies. No new tactics required. Depending on the deaths on your previous run-throughs it is entirely likely that you may have explored most of the different weapon combos and found a style of play you can achieve success with.
A review code was provided by Intragames