Warcube is available in early access on Steam for $9.99.
The story is largely not present at this point. As you begin, you are 'cubified' by a bearded cube and then giving your choice of clothing and how you will enter the world (including by lightning, fire, or meteor!). You are identified as the Warcube, who has been gone for some time and is now returning to set the land right. After this, you are dropped into a fantasy land inhabited by living cubes. The blue cubes are friendly, helpful, or otherwise innocent characters, whereas the red cubes are unanimously ruthless bandits and thugs looking to kill you on sight. While this level of simplicity is to be expected at the Early Access stage, the game's tongue in cheek humor lends itself to some more developed lore details later on.
The gameplay of Warcube borrows lots of elements from other games. The product description admits inspiration from games like Mount & Blade and Assassin's Creed.
After a tutorial level, the player is given access to the overworld map. The overworld map is a lot like Mount & Blade; characters and parties are represented by single characters (in this case, fancily dressed cubes). while locations are marked by simplified views of the buildings at that location. The player can move around the map freely, exploring areas or avoiding enemy bandits. A tactical view is also available, which offers a zoomed out view and icons to guide you.
There are currently a few different options for weapons and armor. Some of the weapons include your standard swords, axes, daggers and bows alongside more humorous weapons like shovels. Armor is also available, acting as both protection and a costume, though I personally saw little difference in performance between the various armor types. Some of the sets include a warrior outfit, a ninja outfit, and even a pretty tutu for the more fashion conscious cubes out there. All in all, the items have a nice variety, but all of the feel purely aesthetic at this point. This is something I hope is addressed during development, as the weapons should feel and function differently.
Once you have entered a location, the game switches to an isometric perspective of your cube and allows you to move around the area. Each area lists a number of flags to capture, chests to find, as well as how many enemies you have killed and how much gold you have earned. Once all the flags have been captured, you are given the option to return to the world map or continue exploring, allowing you to find the treasure chests you missed. Once a level is completed, the flag on the overworld map turns from red to blue, representing your dominion taking control of it. This feature takes away the linear feel of what is essentially a level based game.
This game really shines when it comes to combat. The game employs a combo system similar to Batman's Arkham system where attacks can be followed up by carefully aimed combo attacks, allowing you to dispatch large amounts of enemies in a single combo. However, unlike the button combos of Batman, Warcube makes the player press and hold the mouse in the direction of the next attack while the game briefly enters a slow-mo phase. This means that players must be careful to aim each follow-up attack correctly, or risk being vulnerable for a brief period well their cube's stamina recovers.
You are given two weapon slots and initially equipped with a sword and bow. The bows must be aimed with the mouse and launched by holding down the equipped mouse button, narrowing the target the longer you hold it. This combat is fluid, fast, and spectacular looking. As your cube slices from cube to cube and each enemy flies through the air, the animation sells it well. As well, there are some stealth elements that allow you to sneak up on enemies by using bushes for cover. Though stealth doesn't give you a major advantage, it's the sort of option that I appreciate having in a game like this.
The physics system here really works well. The characters feel like they have the appropriate amount of weight here. Jumping puzzles can be tricky, but fair. Utilizing tools and traps, like catapults, is also satisfying, even if there are few of them implemented just yet. For example, at one point, I had to catapult myself over a collapsed gate and straight into the middle of an enemy camp, where a battle instantly broke out. The event was fun and challenging, and watching my cube sail over the enemy walls and into the enemy ranks felt great.
However, the gameplay is not without its problems. The game is controlled using the WASD keys but is set from an isometric perspective. This creates some difficulty maneuvering, especially with the game's sporadic jumping puzzles. Sometimes, I found myself falling off ledges because it was difficult to move in the diagonal paths along walls or bridges.
The game also now includes an Arena Mode, which tosses the player into an arena where they must face off against wave after wave of enemy. In between rounds, they can spend points they earn in combat to equip better weapons and armor from the 'smithcube'. This mode, though unrelated to the campaign, allows for a more arcade-like experience for those who enjoy the combat, but are uninterested in the multi-map campaign. As well, this mode seems to address the WASD control issue by adjusting the controls to match the isometric view, though I'm unsure if this difference is on purpose or not.
As to be expected, many features are still missing from the game. Some locations and areas are still listed as "under construction", but there is enough here to get a good taste of what is in store. Frequently, you'll find craigz himself in the game, indicating that he is working on that section at the moment. This provides a humorous way to indicate the game is a work in progress, which I'm sure many will appreciate.
At one point, I found myself aided by a large group of blue cube allies. However, I have no idea how or why it happened. It was a really cool feature that I'd like to see more of. These group battles, though currently not clearly explained, would look great with the game's fun combat system.
An amazing addition to this game is the ability to make a GIF image out of the last few seconds of gameplay with a single button press. This is an incredibly neat feature that more games should implement on release. It allows players to relive their favorite moments and even share them with their friends.
Of course, the game is in Early Access now, and there isn't a whole lot of content to explore yet. What is there, can be wrapped up in about two hours. After that, you encounter a rather large wall humorously identified as 'The Developer Wall'. Many other features are promised in the future, including sieges.
Sound & Audio
Graphically, the game looks great. Though buildings and characters are created in a blocky style, they look really nice. The movement of the characters and combat looks fluid and weapons and items are animated well. There are also some particle effects that look great too. Lighting, in particular, looks very nice, casting shadows behind characters and objects. The combat animations chain together very nicely as well. Text and indicators all are clear and function nicely. Textures such as water and foliage are clean and distinct, if not a bit simplistic.
Sound, on the other hand, is fairly primitive at this point. There is little as far as soundtrack, with tunes repeating frequently. Sound effects are present and are effective, if not too particularly innovative. However, the weapons and attacks sound effects are appropriate and help sell the combat.
Warcube is an ambitious title for the new developer craigz. The game mixes a lot of different experiences into a single game. However, what sets it apart is how well all those features are integrated. The combat feels smooth and polished, even at this early stage. The graphics look great, even if they are formulated in a very simplistic style. Most importantly, it is fun and delightfully charming. The simplistic style and formula lay out the groundwork for a fun experience. Fans of physic based action adventure games should keep an eye out as Warcube continues development.