Cubemen 2 Review

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Cubemen 2 is the newest from 3 Sprockets, an Australia-based dev house best known for its mobile games and the previous Cubemen. Much like the previous title, Cubemen 2 is a tower defense game in which you control units instead of sedentary towers. What this does is give the player a more flexible mobile defense, and it pays off. And, the cherry on top, you also get the full suite of community-made content to play with and against others. Cubemen 2 is a fun, neatly-packaged game that should please many fans of the genre so dominated by towers and flowers.

Hits

Bots with Blocky Builds

The presentation here is really nice. From the opening menu, which even functions as a bit of a unit gallery, the game’s got quirk. I really enjoyed some of the units’ names that make coy, little plays on their class; Waly can turn into walls and Flint has a flamethrower. Cute, right? Along with this, there is a fairly nice set of options to customize your experience (more on that later) from music to skins to level themes.

Now, obviously, the game takes some hefty inspiration from that nearly-unknown title called Minecraft. The hexahedron world and equally perpendicular characters are as charming as their counterparts, if not more. Honestly, I love the default look over all the optional skins, though. It’s clean and futuristic, something totally different than the soup du jour of “retro” graphics. In the nicest way possible, it reminds me of those computer simulations depicted in ’90s movies. I love it.

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The Best Defense …

The gameplay here might be described as a mix of tower defense and RTS. Like I said, it’s really nice to be able to move your men. In the early stages of a fight, it’s almost necessary, shifting your defenses to face the battle as your resources are limited. This takes the painful amounts of watching and waiting that most TD games have out of the equation.

Along with the thoughtful mixing comes a few compromises. The inability to select multiple units as you would in an RTS seems a bit cumbersome as you have to select, move and de-select units to hustle them. And your men do seem a bit more frail than those in a typical TD game. However, that’s not the point and those are small gripes. The real elegance comes from the majority of the things the system does right when blending the genres.

Devs That Care

So, when we got our review copy, it was – how do I put this nicely – a bit micro-transaction-y and I didn’t like it. And by a bit, I mean a lot. A ton of the skins were behind a paygate and, worse yet, lots of these were in the trailer. People felt a bit cheated. Fast-forward a few days and because of community feedback, all launch skins and themes are free. For this, I applaud 3 Sprockets.

Small steps like this, empowering the consumer and opening a two-way dialogue, are really, really generous and fair symbols of the game’s planned development. Now, there will be future things released for pay, but it will be icing on the cake and not the cake pictured on the box. The reason I point this out is because customization and creation are kinda-sorta the game’s hidden ace.

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Make It Happen!

What Cubemen 2 – across all of its current and future platforms – does so well is user-generated content. Frankly, you can build just about anything and then, through the black cosmick magicks of the Internet, others can play it. You can make a holdout map if you like. But perhaps you’re feeling a bit more creative and want to remake the inner hull of the USS Enterprise and play some capture the flag on it. Go for it.

It’s clean to navigate and easy to build, so go for it. This is where Cubemen 2’s longevity comes from. There are multiple game modes and – while I’ve only had the luxury of playing against AI – they’re pretty fun. Some of the levels are suuuper well made too, worth the download just to view them (perhaps the residue of communal Minecraft skill is leaking over). Until the servers populate a bit more after launch, I can’t vouch for other, living and breathing players.

Misses

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Sub-Par Single-Player

One thing that Cubemen 2 does fumble a bit with is its single-player campaign. With this game clearly developed for quick-session multiplayer strategy (which, again, it does very well), it’s understandable that the crux of the title is not its campaign. With little-to-no story and even less variety, it’s worth it to grasp the game’s mechanics but not much more.

Mobile First

Likewise, tied to the assumed goal of Cubemen 2 being a predominantly mobile title, the game is a bit unintuitive to the PC gamer. Screen layout and input are all touch-centric rather than optimized for keyboard and mouse. Ancillary data and flavor text is nonexistent too, and descriptions of user-made levels would’ve been really nice.

Recap

All in all, Cubemen 2 is a niche title. I can’t recommend it to everyone but I heartily recommend it to people looking for what the game offers. Come for the strategy and stay for … well, whatever the community thinks up. While it’s only available on Steam right now, it should make a big splash when it makes its debut on mobile platforms. There’s a lot to do here and while it might not be the full-blown PC title you’re looking for, it could definitely sate your thirst on the commute or elsewhere.

Review Platform: PC

Written by: Nick Cane

Game writer, fervent lover of mac and cheese. Favorite games are ES4: Oblivion, Kirby's Adventure, Link's Awakening, Final Fantasy 8 and Mario Galaxy.

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