Platforms: PlayStation 4
Over the last few years, the roguelite genre has picked up steam. With the success of games like FTL: Faster Than Light, Wizard of Legend, Into the Breach, and early access titles such as Dead Cells, and Slay the Spire, it shows no signs of stopping. Does Survive! Mr. Cube, the first game published for western audiences from South Korean company Intragames, stand apart in a field that’s seemingly growing ever more crowded?
There are typical fantasy monsters and magic. You’ll come across weapons that let you cast fireballs and shoot lightning, while some enemies can do the same in return. The game does indicate the player is stuck in some sort of alternate dimension and all he wants to do is get back to his beloved, but he’s continually reborn as new adventurers with each passing death.
There is mild cartoon violence.
While there is a sinister being behind the events of Survive! Mr. Cube, our protagonist simply wants nothing more than to get out of this cubist alternate reality and back to the lady he loves. He’ll continually persevere until he’s achieved his goal.
Days before his wedding, our salesman protagonist Mr. Kobe is stopped by a mysterious figure when he enters a pub on his way home from work. The robed figure offers our hero a pill with a sinister laugh. Much to my chagrin, Mr. Kobe must’ve thought it was a good idea to take a pill from a random guy in a bar. When he wakes up, he’s by a campfire in a cubist world, wanting nothing but to return to the arms of his beloved. While some of the choppy storytelling is likely due to translation errors, it really serves no other premise than to place our character in the game world with a goal. Just beware it will likely leave you scratching your head.
The gameplay is Mr. Cube‘s forte. With each new life, you’ll have a weapon and you can begin exploring the world. Originally a mobile game, the controls actually map over to PlayStation 4 quite well. You’ll move with the left analog and attack directionally with the right, opening chests and taking potions along the way. As you progress through a level, you’ll slowly uncover the fog of the unknown surrounding the stage. Your ultimate goal is to find and conquer towers to progress areas, eventually finding bosses to conquer.
As anyone familiar with roguelite games can attest, randomness will play a large factor in your success. Some runs you may get powerful weapons early on while others you may spend your whole run scrounging for a decent arm with which to defend yourself. Skill can override a bad setup, but you can be taken down quickly in the wrong situation.
To the credit of Survive! Mr Cube, even a couple hours in the game continually generated random enemy heroes I hadn’t previously run into, keeping encounters interesting with some edge-of-your-seat anticipation. Outside of those hero enemies, however, non-boss foes began feeling rote and predictable. If you persevere long enough and defeat bosses, you’ll get a change of scenery, but the dark woods you start in can wear out their welcome quickly. Survive! Mr. Cube is a short game, but it’s mindlessly entertaining. The game is quite generous with its PlayStation trophies, handing them out a few per run. If you pay attention and have a little luck, you’ll be able to walk away with a platinum trophy in only a couple hours.
Survive! Mr. Cube‘s aesthetic will feel familiar to anyone familiar with Minecraft. Everything down to the particle effects are blocky. The weaponry selection provides some variety and the enemy heroes have unique designs, while bosses also give you some reprieve from the monotony. Otherwise you’ll largely spend your time fighting rubber-stamped foes in similar-looking areas. The sound design is functional, but ultimately there was much memorable about the audio in the game.
At the end of the day, Survive! Mr. Cube is a middle-of-the-road fantasy roguelite. It doesn’t do anything particularly bad, but there’s nothing that stands out, either. It can be fun to mindlessly burn away some time exploring and taking down enemies, and it’s an easy platinum for trophy hunters. I believe this may be a good option for younger, less skilled gamers or folks just looking to pass the time, but in a genre that continues to grow and push boundaries, Mr. Cube will be doing well just to survive.
Review copy provided by Intragames
The Bottom Line