Look at a Rubik’s Cube and what do you see? A 3×3 multi-coloured object which has fascinated puzzle solvers since its creation in the 1970s. Its appeal is in that seemingly simple process of matching each side to a colour, yet can look impossible to complete by many whilst a very select few can solve one in under 5 seconds. If you love elegant puzzles like the cube or Tetris, for example, then another one to take a look at is Cubism, a perfect example of a stylish brain teaser.
Created by indie developer Thomas Van Bouwel, Cubism provides an elegant design to the child-like endeavour of playing with blocks. But rather than building something from your imagination, your brain is challenged to fit the selection of pieces into a predetermined shape. What transpires is a rather addictive puzzle experience which is hard to put down until the last block is placed.
Cubism is split across 10 sections, each with a different theme and six levels to complete, for a total of 60. This is a very relaxed ‘zen’ kind of videogame with chilled piano music playing and a light grey background nicely offsetting the bright colour of the blocks – there’s also a ‘dark mode’ for those who prefer a black background. You don’t even need to start a level to begin playing as the introduction of the logo provides a novel tutorial, grabbing the ‘I’ of Cubism and putting it in place to set things in motion.
Early levels are set out with Easy, Medium and Hard puzzles whilst the latter stages introduce Expert and Master for the true puzzle aficionados. This gives a nice difficulty balance so that you shouldn’t get frustrated until at least halfway and by that point all the levels will be unlocked – you don’t need to unlock each one individually, thankfully – so you can chop and change if you’re struggling on a particular puzzle.
Much like a jigsaw where you’re sat at a table inspecting each piece, Cubism is a very close up, hands-on title, examining the various shapes you’ve been given and one by one placing them within the allotted outline. There are no time limits or other burdens to worry about, just the methodical act of finding that perfect synergy of the blocks. It’s surprisingly therapeutic and deeply satisfying solving the really intricate Master puzzles.
Cubism has another layer to it which you might miss yet adds a further element to that desire of finishing each challenge, and that’s music. The lovely piano soundtrack which accompanies you throughout the videogame isn’t just there to add a little soul to the experience. As each puzzle is solved you can play it as a note, just in the same way you would a piano key. On the left of the level selection menu there’s a little play button which will go through the entire tune if you’ve completed the title. Or it’ll end with a clunk at an unsolved puzzle. A simple yet effective feature to encourage you along.
Here you have a good example of why indie developers are such a vital part of the VR industry. Cubism would never have been made by a big studio yet it deserves your attention nonetheless. Easy to pick up yet difficult to complete, it may take some an hour whilst others will take five. It’s the kind of VR game you can give to anyone and they’ll instantly know what to do, because who doesn’t know how to place a few blocks together.