Playing with shiny, mysterious blocks in 'QUBE 2'

The sequel from Toxic Games adds a level of refinement to the series.

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    The original QUBE came out in 2012, making a name for itself as a clever spatial-puzzle game. Nearly five years later, the developers at Toxic Games have unveiled QUBE 2, a sequel that takes the best aspects of the original and throws them all in a beautiful new 3D environment.

    Gallery: 'QUBE 2' | 4 Photos

    The first thing that stands out in the QUBE 2 demo is the level of polish applied to the environment. It's a gorgeous game. Set in a massive, bright laboratory type of building, players manipulate blue, green and red blocks, using them to solve puzzles strewn about the world. The blocks pop against stark white and black rooms, making the entire game resonate with light and color.

    The puzzles themselves are challenging and thus satisfying to solve. Each block has a different function: Place a red square on the proper "block-building" space and it creates a long rectangle; the green tool creates a solid block that can fall or fly when pushed by a fan; and the blue square is a launch pad, capable of flinging the protagonist and blocks alike across the landscapes.

    Some of the gameplay in QUBE 2 will feel familiar to fans of the Portal franchise. A few of the puzzles involve placing blocks on pressure plates to open doorways or unveil staircases, and the ominous feeling of the lab adds a lovely layer of mystery to the entire game. However, this isn't Portal. QUBE 2 limits the ways players can use each tool: You can't simply pick up and move a green block wherever you'd like, for example. Instead, players have to use blue launch pads and red barrier blocks to make the rooms obey their will.

    Even though Toxic Games has stripped down QUBE 2 to these three basic elements -- red, green and blue blocks -- the puzzle possibilities seem endless. Players will be able to see for themselves when QUBE 2 comes to PC, Mac and Linux this summer.

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    Jessica earned her BA in journalism from ASU's Walter Cronkite School in 2011, and she's written for online outlets since 2008, with four years as senior reporter at Joystiq. She specializes in covering independent video games and esports, and she strives to tell human stories within the broader tech industry. Jessica is also a sci-fi novelist with a completed manuscript floating through the mysterious ether of potential publishers.

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