I was drawn to Cube Raiders as a puzzle and multiplayer game because it evoked memories of some of my favourite PS1 and PS2 games. Devil Dice came out on PS1 (XI in Japan) and Bombastic was its PS2 sequel. In those games, you matched the number of dice together with the face number to clear them from the area. So you’d need 2 with 2 on, 3 with 3, 4 with 4 facing up and so on. The dice would then sink into the floor and you could roll more of the same face number onto it or beside it to create a chain, thus improving your score. They are still fantastic games today and this core gameplay mechanic carries over to Cube Raiders. It just isn’t as responsive in this new knock off.
Cube Raiders has the exact same game for a single player time trial mode to rack up a high score and the gameplay itself works perfectly fine. What doesn’t translate as well is the speed of the game, which is slower in Cube Raiders. The other notable changes here are that 1’s can be chained on their own anywhere and that you climb up dice easily rather than having to wait for respawning dice in Devil Dice. You’ll be chasing your local score and it works well if being a tad less frantic because of the slower speed. Cube Raiders also brings a multiplayer battle mode to the table where you battle for control of dice numbers. Once you create a combo of a number, say lining 3 3’s together – you own that number. To win you need to own 4 of the numbers on the dice face and that will take strategy that is both aggressive and defensive. Your opponent will be busy stealing your numbers or creating their own combos. If two players know what they are doing, this mode is great fun and will provide plenty of entertainment.
Where Cube Raiders differs from its influences is in the main Puzzle mode. Here, you have 100 single-player puzzles and 60 co-op puzzles to solve. Each level tells you what it wants as an outcome and how many moves you have to do it in. From there, its trial and error to find a solution. New mechanics are regularly introduced to keep things fresh and whilst the levels are usually quite small, it does take some brainpower to figure puzzles out. This is because instead of purely rolling dice to change the top face, you can also push them around. Both cost a single move but obviously, that then changes at what point the number you need will pop up on top. So long as you remember each opposite dice face combo adds up to 7 – you’ll be in good hands.
Whilst nothing here is bad on its own, I did run into a number of technical issues with Cube Raiders. There is a delay in recognising combo’s – especially larger ones. It is as if the game is mentally counting the dice slowly and then pings it as a win. Sometimes I’d solve puzzles and the game wouldn’t register it and so I’d have to redo the puzzle again. There are also achievements and trophies for a 2 player mode that isn’t actually listed or included in the game. It isn’t the co-op mode as that has its own achievements, as does battle mode. What could it possibly be? No one has achieved any of them across all platforms.
Everything in Cube Raiders feels less than Devil Dice and Bombastic – two games that were made 20 years ago. That is my residing thought. It is less fluid and speedy than those and less engaging too. The puzzle mode is a nice addition but I didn’t want it to be the main event and so my hopes and expectations were not really met with this release. Add to it the bugs and glitches and you have a very mediocre experience dragging down a fine concept.
Buggy and less fun than the 20 year old games that inspired it, Cube Raiders is recommended for huge puzzle fans only.
Battle mode and time trial modes are fun.
The dice mechanics still work as well today as they did over 20 years ago.
Buggy and glitchy throughout.
The much slower pace of the game makes it less engaging.
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