Survive! Mr. Cube, developed by Korean studio Intragames, is a game I really wanted to like. It has a fairly charming art style, as well as a decent gameplay premise. Unfortunately, the more I played, the more I found wrong with the game until I came to the conclusion that the game was not one I would highly recommend.
Survive! Mr. Cube is available on PlayStation 4 for $14.99
Survive! Mr.Cube Official Trailer [Europe]
You play as the titular Mr. Cube, a newlywed man with a simple life. While going to his favorite pub one day, Mr. Cube is met by a strange man who offers him a pill. Taking eat for some reason, Cube passes out and wakes up in some strange, alternate dimension. From there he picks up a weapon and tries to make his way through the strange world.
The story is incredibly simple, taking a backseat to the gameplay. No reason is given as to why the Mr. Cube thinks taking a mysterious pill from an equally as mysterious cloaked man. When you die you take the place of another character, but this isn’t explained. The only clarification you get is at the end of the game, and it still leaves a ton of stuff unanswered questions.
Something that really stood out was a significant number of spelling and grammar errors. Tons of misspelled words, even in the game's trophies, as well as pluralization where it wasn’t needed plague the game. While I understand that English is not the first language of this studio, the number of mistakes compared to the minimal amount of text can be downright distracting.
Survive! Mr. Cube is a twin-stick action rogue-lite game. As such, you fight your way through procedurally generated levels, primarily using the left and right analog sticks to fight. Along the way, you pick up upgrades, currency, and new weapons. All together this should have come together nicely, but instead, the gameplay drags on so much that by the time you finish the first area the player will likely have gone through most of what the game has to offer.
At the start of the game, the player begins with a different weapon, dependent on what character they start out as. As they play, they will have the opportunity to pick up new, more powerful weapons. The player is able to hold two different weapons, switching between them with the L1 trigger. Weapons will usually fall into specific archetypes, such as smashing weapons and slashing, while some have unique abilities.
The weapons in the game are incredibly unbalanced, to the point that one of the archetypes, the fireball staffs, is outright better than all the other weapons. They’re so powerful that a level 2 weapon, out of 5, was able to get me through the entire game. Melee weapons are virtually worthless, often times leading to the player taking way to much damage, due to a lack of any form of hit stun. They also drain stamina much faster, as well as doing significantly less damage.
The player has 5 stats that they are able to improve through upgrades as they progress. These are health, stamina, health and stamina regen, and movement speed. These upgrades are usually found in special chests throughout the level, as well as from purchasing from a merchant.
The player is also able to pick up heart pieces by defeating special monsters located throughout the stage. These essentially add a second health bar, going to a total of about 8. These are far too easy to get, and often times I found myself walking around being capped off on them.
An issue I had with the upgrades was that there are way too many upgrades in the game. Every stage has 25 rooms, and each of these rooms will have at least one special chest. The actual upgrades don’t add much leading to the player having to slog it out through every room to get enough to make a significant change. I would have preferred having fewer upgrades that were more powerful.
The player is also able to pick up consumable potions throughout the level, usually through chests located in each room. The potions have fairly simple effects, red regening health while purple increases movement speed temporarily. The potions don’t really add much, myself usually only suing the purple to get around the rooms faster. The only times they really come into effect is during boss fights, and even then not that much.
Being a roguelike, dying in Mr. Cube results in having to start at the beginning of the area without any of the upgrades or weapons you gained in the previous run. When you respawn, you start off as a new character with different weapons and stats. The player does get to keep the gold they picked up in their previous life, being able to use it to purchase items and upgrades from a merchant at the starting zone.
A big problem with the way that Mr. Cube does this system is that there are characters that are outright better than others. While some will have a reasonable amount of health and stamina, there are some that have a ridiculously large amount alongside an obscene amount of health regeneration. Some will also start with much more powerful weapons than others.
Another problem I had was with the way the currency and merchant work. With currency, you always keep what you collect, making it very easy to just grind out cash to spend at the store. The merchant will sell you a random item, starting at 100 gold, and for each purchase, the amount goes up by an additional 100. The items he drops are completely random, and as such it’s very possible to wind up spending thousands in gold just to get a potion that you can pick up ten of in one room.
The game also lacks a lot of the challenge and difficulty that is often associated with the rogue-lite genre. Enemies usually don’t enough damage to be a serious threat, and by the time they catch up you have so much health regen that it heals almost instantly.
The only times I died was because of other Cube enemies, who often have ridiculous amounts of damage and health. Pretty much the only way to beat these guys is to either cheese them out or blow about 3 or 4 health bars trying to out DPS them. Considering these enemies are your main source of new weapons, it becomes a big problem in the early game.
Graphics and Sound
Survive! has a nice, charming Voxel art style. Most of the enemies and stages are fairly standard fantasy fair, goblins, skeletons and other such creatures. They manage to be stylized enough to stand out. I also found the boss designs to be pretty neat. The few cutscenes are done in a kind of sketchy style. They look fine, but there are inconsistencies with the style.
The sound design in the game is fairly simple, with a lot of things sounding like public domain noises. The game only has a handful of music tracks, being quiet and relaxing in the main stages while turning it up a bit. Nothing too bad, but nothing that really makes the soundtrack standout.
As I said before, this is a game I really wanted to be able to recommend. I’m a sucker for Voxel graphics, but that’s not nearly enough for me to be able to ignore glaring issues with the games writing and gameplay. What could have been a fairly short but nice experience gets turned into a long drawn out process, and as such I would have to advise most people to skip Survive! Mr. Cube
|+ Nice art style||– Very Repetitive|
|– Most weapons are useless|
|– Lacking in challenge|