The hybrid design of Nintendo Switch makes it the ideal system for all types of games. As illustrated by previous releases on the platform, there are certain games catering to prolonged couch sessions while other titles have been providing audiences with shorter bursts of fun better suited to the daily commute. Qbik, developed by Norbert Palacz and published by Forever Entertainment, manages to find the right balance between these two play styles – with sessions able to be enjoyed for a few minutes in transit or even an hour or two in your living room.
Qbik is a single-player title where you take control of a self-aware blue block, with one eye and a big mouth, as it traverses 63 levels filled with challenging puzzles, riddles and brainteasers. The more levels you manage to complete, the more you learn about the block’s back story and the grim universe it resides in. The common joy from a game such as this typically comes from solving the puzzles presented before you. It’s no different in this case. The primary task is to consume all the yellow blocks in each level. This might sound simple, but as with all games of this kind, additional mechanics are slowly incorporated over time making each section increasingly difficult.
New blocks with different properties further add to these stimulating puzzle-solving sessions. Generally, blocks will either halt your progress or aid you in finding a solution to a level. There are plenty of different varieties as well – from dirt blocks to yellow sand-like blocks that fall when a block beneath is removed. Other mechanics that come into play later include teleportation and switches. Even if these devices function in a predictable fashion, each one adds a further layer of complexity to the puzzling action, and makes it all that much more rewarding upon completion of a level.
As you progress, levels grow in size. From this point onwards it becomes important to survey your surroundings and plan your moves in advance in order to succeed. With the forces of gravity in play, the only direction Qbik can move is horizontally. This is when other methods of movement such as teleportation become even more important – allowing you to reach higher ground if you have dropped to the depths below. If you do find yourself struggling on a certain level, you can rewind time prior to an error.
The ability gives you the chance to experiment until you finally have that “eureka” moment and the solution becomes apparent. Of course, you can also completely restart levels from the very beginning as well. There is one last option you can resort to. That is the skip function. If a puzzle is too hard you can skip it altogether. The catch – you can only skip a total of five levels, so chose wisely – else persist. With not that much hand-holding, this is as much help as you’ll get from the game as you work your way through each level.
Undoubtedly, the most surprising inclusion in this package is the level editor. It might not be on the same level as certain other games, however, it's still a welcome addition. There are no limitations in terms of what can be used within the editor. Here you can use all the same blocks and special devices available to you in the main game as well as shape and decorate the levels however you like. The main setback is you can only share maps locally on your system (at the time of review). Other releases of the game enable you to upload your own custom levels and share them with the wider community. Despite this drawback, it’s still fun to create your own levels. The controls also enhance this mode – with the touch controls in the handheld mode making block placement and movement both quick and easy. Admittedly, the button controls are not quite as effortless at times.
The world surrounding Qbik are dim caverns enhanced by atmospheric sounds and eerie tones. As recycled as the pixel-art is, it still does a great job bringing the simple game world to life and adding an extra layer of polish. The star block also has a great sense of character because of the quality animations and sound effects, along with the assistance of the dialogue and storytelling.
Qbik may not be a ground-breaking puzzle game but it does what any title under the genre should do; it provides you with a great sense of accomplishment. It’s exactly how you want to feel when playing a game like this. Its puzzles get better as you progress due to the complexity, making it an obvious go to for fans of the genre. The level editor is also a nifty inclusion despite its obvious limitation. Still, in this mode you’ll be able to experiment to your heart’s content.
As a Switch title, Qbik is yet another accessible game that can adapt to your play style – be it a brief session when you’re out and about, or a longer period of gaming in between the bigger releases you’re currently playing. If you’re eager for more puzzle action on the Switch, this is definitely an eShop game you should check out.