Cubers: Arena (Xbox One) Review

Using twin-stick controls, Cubers: Arena is an entertaining grind to become the best geometric shaped gladiator.

Make no mistake, despite the simple shaped presentation, this is a brutal and pretty addicting downloadable title. Playing as a shape you learn about in kindergarten, the player must survive numerous waves of hostile baddies, leveling up along the way. There are some tedious difficulty spikes but these are overcome by grinding a previous stage or two until that next level is reached or that new piece of armor can be purchased. This is where the addictive qualities come into play. In order to survive that next battle, the player will need to upgrade. New weapons, equipment, and abilities are unlocked after ever battle, gold is earned, and experience points are gained. Since there is always something new for the player to obtain, that “one more wave” style gameplay makes it easy to keep playing. Local co-op adds to the fun too.

In addition to constantly unlocking new things to make the player stronger, new multiplayer modes also become available in time. These bonus mini games won’t provide any significant staying power but are designed well enough to experiment with a few times. These extra modes are just the icing on the cake of the already quality gameplay loop.  They don’t need to be there but placing them in the final product prove the developers care.

Even though gameplay is solid and fun there are a few excusable missteps.  As this in a twin-stick action game, it is a little disappointing not having an option to remap the controls. It is a little strange the main attack, which will be performed constantly, is assigned to the right bumper instead of the right trigger, for example. The controls are fine and responsive but would have preferred a slightly different button layout. The hub world is also a little strange. Although it is small enough to walk around and find what you need quickly, it is filled with background elements that look interactive but sort of get in the way. This hub space could have been designed a little tighter since the player will be seeing it almost as much as the circle arena. The difficulty spikes are the biggest inconvenience. I was able to clear a few levels in a row, for example, then got totally decimated the next. World ending bosses can also be brutally unfair without grinding and proper preparation. All these things are overcome with some grinding and patience though.

I was expecting Cubers: Arena to be another throw away horde mode title given the simplistic visual style but walked away pleasantly surprised. Gameplay might be a repetitive but since the player constantly grows at a quick pace, button mashing can be excused especially when layered with a worthwhile blocking mechanic.  There are also a ton of smaller flourishes that make the entire experience a smooth ride like the super speedy load times, the surprisingly bloody animations, the multiplayer competitive modes, local co-op, and score tracking online leaderboards. Don’t let the basic 3D shapes of the visual distract you, this is an entertaining romp in becoming the best shaped based gladiator in geometry land.

Also available on PS4, Switch, and PC.

SCORE: 8/10

Basically The Same Game As: Story of a Gladiator (Xbox One)
Don’t Forget About: Swords and Sandals Spartacus (Switch)
Wait For It: a re-release of Rage of the Gladiator (WiiWare)

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief
Twitter: @ZackGaz

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