I love a good puzzle. I’m prone to a Sudoku binge, I play Wordle every day and I have the platinum trophy for The Witness. The Last Cube has a lot in common with Jonathan Blow’s spectacular brain bender and while it doesn’t achieve the same level of greatness, The Last Cube is definitely worthy of testing your grey matter.
Release Date: March 10th, 2022 (PS5, PS4)
Developer: Improx Games
Publisher: Improx Games
Availability: PSN, Microsoft Store, Nintendo eShop, Steam
Despite being a puzzle game at its core, there is a story for players to uncover. You assume the role of the titular Last Cube, a sentient cube and the last of its kind. You are tasked with completing a series of puzzles within the centre of the cube planet. The planet has suffered untold apocalyptic calamities and the puzzles are designed to prepare you to become the saviour of this world. The story is a little out there but the collectible relics in each level reveal extra lore that is often humorously written. Similar to Blow’s island-based puzzler, the story is an inobtrusive framing device for the fiendishly clever puzzles that make up the entirety of The Last Cube’s gameplay.
As a sentient cube you can move throughout each level by rolling around on your six faces. Each cube face has the ability to pick up stickers that imbue the cube with a special ability. Yellow stickers grant the power to dash forward, blue stickers allow you to swivel your cube on its central axis, red stickers allow you to create temporary staircases to cross gaps safely and so on. You’ll need to use these abilities, sometimes in combination with each other, to reach the exit of each level.
The sticker system is a brilliant innovation that provides some perplexing moments. Just like The Witness, puzzle mechanics are introduced to you slowly and you’ll gradually master each skill by using them over time. The design of each level means you’ll face tougher and more thought-provoking puzzles as you progress. Eventually, you’ll be required to use your stickered faces to manipulate lasers, clone your cube to access previously inaccessible areas or teleport yourself over hazardous ravines.
There were times that I felt genuinely stuck without a way forward, only to experience a eureka moment hours later when my console wasn’t even turned on. These passive revelations saw me excitedly stop what I was doing and rush back to the PS5 to test my theory. The euphoria upon finally solving a puzzle that’s been rattling around in your brain for hours is truly wonderful.
The world of The Last Cube is divided into themed level sets accessed through a central hub area. Themes range from desolate alien landscapes to jungles and snowy biomes. Each theme is well realised although the visuals aren’t anything to write home about. Minor screen tearing occurs throughout the game although it was infrequent enough during my playthrough that it failed to dampen my enjoyment.
My biggest criticism of The Last Cube is actually how dark some of the levels are. At the default brightness setting, certain levels are almost impossible to see with crucial parts of their geometry being hidden in shadows. The problem is so severe that I had to increase the default brightness to 300% to see what I was doing.
In a similar vein to The Witness, the puzzles themselves are the real star of the show here and there are plenty of them with over 100 puzzles in the campaign. Completing each of the story levels is just the beginning as extra objectives, such as completing levels against the clock or restricting the number of stickers that can be used, ramp up the difficulty and provide excellent replay value. Even harder bonus levels can also be unlocked by collecting hidden relics within the story levels. Reaching these relics often require additional puzzles to be solved and all of them left me feeling like a genius afterwards.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS5.
Summary - FantasticSummary - Fantastic
- Exceptionally clever sticker system.
- Added replay value courtesy of collectibles and unlockable challenges in each level.
- Eureka moments makes you feel like an actual genius.
- Overly dark environments that obscure some puzzles.
- Minor performance issues with screen tearing throughout.
- Weak story despite some humorous lore.