Wii U – Developed by Cypronia – 1 Player – Out Now
Minecraft clones are no uncommon thing. All you have to do is search the name on your phone’s AppStore, or check out XBLA’s indie section. So to say that this is the Wii U’s first game of its kind is quite a surprise, considering that the original dig-em up predates the console. Cube Life has been a long time coming, and now it’s here, will it be a worthy substitute for the one game that seems to be on every other gaming platform?
There are 2 modes in Cube Life, much like the game that’s going to be mentioned a lot during this review, there’s a creative mode, that allows you to just craft and build without fear of being killed by enemies or any other hazards, or there’s Survival mode, which is narrative driven and has you pitted against the flora and fauna of the world you inhabit. Unlike Minecraft, your character has a backstory, and a voice, and ends up being stranded on a desert island following the capsizing of the cruise liner he was traveling on. It starts off with the character saying what he needs to do, ie hydrate, eat, seek shelter etc, acting as a tutorial of sorts. For those not familiar with the concept, you start off by cutting up trees and other raw materials to create tools, weapons and variety of other items, as well as being able to construct pretty much any kind of structure you can think of, a whilst avoiding any local nasties that may be lurking nearby.
While there are basic instructions of what to do and where to go next, you still need to figure out the controls and how to construct things for yourself. There’s a crafting guide available from the get go, yet what isn’t apparent is that you have to follow the guide to the letter. In Minecraft, when you’re combining elements to craft an item, you combine them and voila, you’ve got your stuff. In this game you have put your items on the crafting table in a specific way or nothing happens. This was quite confusing at first, which is probably why the crafting guide is available straight away.
It’s not long before you’re introduced to the not so welcoming natives of this desert island, as the day turns to night you need to decide whether you’re going to put together some weapons or conceal your presence. If you decide to stand and fight, expect to be met by wave after wave of enemies, each as tough and intimidating as the last. The play area in Survival Mode is massive, however it has to load between each grid on the map so it doesn’t feel that expansive, and you can only see the area within that grid. The learning curve is really steep. If you’ve already played Minecraft, you will at least know to expect certain things, but nothing is laid out in front of you. A lot of what you need to do to progress is discovered through exploration and destruction. The health system can infuriate at times, especially at the start, because as well as your regular health meter, you’re burdened with keeping the character fed and watered, and depending on what you’ve eaten, you don’t stay hydrated/full for long. The save method is a double edged sword. You have to manually save it, so if you get caught up crafting and digging, it’s easy to forget that you should save you progress, however an autosave wouldn’t go amiss either, but as the game seems to be so much about trial and error, it’s probably wise that saving is manual.
There’s lots to enjoy in Cube Life, with the only real limits being your imagination, or anything round. It’s a worthy substitute for Minecraft, and if you’re one of the six people that haven’t played it, then you’re in for a treat and get to see what all the fuss is about, and if you can’t always get to the TV, the remote play on the Wii U Gamepad is a life saver. The health system could do with ironing out, and the difficulty in Survival mode probably spikes too quickly, but for the sum of its parts, Cube Life Island Survival is as addictive and time evaporating as much as the game it owes everything to.