Title: Cubers: Arena
Genre: Twin-stick Action Brawler
Official Site: https://teyon.com/games/cubers/
Version Tested: PC
Release Dates: July 28, 2020, for PC, PS4, and Xbox One; July 30, 2020, for Nintendo Switch
Rolling Into Cubers: Arena
It’s time to get armed to the teeth with swords, shields, and magic in Cubers: Arena. In Tomasz Dziobek‘s one-man digital creation, you play as a ball-shaped gladiator named Baller. Held against his will, he is forced to fight his way to freedom through four distinctive battle arenas. Each awarded trophy is just one step closer to facing The King.
After learning the basics with some introductory killing, Baller is free to roam the outside mini-market known as the Oasis, where he meets three traders that will aid him in utilizing his mustered supplies from bloodshed. Solus can switch out your combat skills, Edin is in charge of providing equipment and upgrades, and Xardis can attach gems to your weapons and armor for increased stats.
Let the Games Begin
Garoth awaits as you prepare for the Colosseum stage, the initial battleground where you’ll easily learn all the controls within the first two to three levels. For such sinuous gameplay, Cubers: Arena is meant to be played with a gamepad: with many twists and turns as enemies come at you at all angles, adapting to slithering and dodging away from danger becomes a common aspect in the twin-stick combat. It’s all very smooth, and there are rarely any breaks in the framerate when the chaos intensifies.
Cubers‘ combat also features a friendly fire system where its possible for enemies to hurt their mates. This can be wonderfully accomplished by having a pile of sword slashin’ boxes come toward you while a projectile-based bat can spit acidic bombs within your vicinity. Spinning flamethrowers can set anyone ablaze as you continue to distract an idiotic box troll that swings a pebble club at anything its path.
To say that the gameplay was fun is not enough. In truth, it was greatly addicting thanks to its Baller leveling system, an array of weapons and fighting styles, and bone-crushing comic blood and gore. The encounters grew to be more challenging, giving me plenty of dying experience to remember which swish-n-flick maneuver would be more effective against which foe. Even when I would fail at a level, I would get to keep the collected pieces of gold and weapon chips to barter with at the Oasis, seeing what else I can use in my path to freedom.
Choosing between single and double-handed swords, capes, rings, and armors, there would be certain perks for some items – the majority of Edin’s armory deal with Attack, Defense, Vitality, and Wisdom stats. Some can add fire effects to your attacks; others can electrocute enemies in your favor as you absorb their health with the gifts from your magic ring and healing cape. A buzzsaw shield can make them bleed as you bring them closer to a spike trap. You can turn yourself into a vicious rolling ball of carnage with a strength power-up to boost the ring of fire activation. The killing possibilities are endless in creativity, and playing with a friend just doubles the fun factor in Cubers: Arena.
Enter Cubers: Arena’s 36 Chambers
Each of the 36 levels looks different in their presentation with horde spawns and weather effects. One level would be set at night time while the next could be during the day, and it’s all delightful to look at. The character animations – though simplistic – provide good laughs amid enjoyable attention to the minimal level design. Especially when you’re playing through the darker levels of the Village arena and the enemies look a little more terrifying and adorable, it marks itself for being quite an experience to those who decide to play Cubers: Arena.
Additionally, you can customize Baller’s looks by choosing from a selection of colors that will attach to parts of him and his attacks. If you like purple, the echoes of his strikes will shine purple. Like blue? Why not. As well as with red, which makes it the obvious choice when the blood splattering from the bad guys land onto the ground. It’s all very colorful, and not in an exaggerated way as well.
The music is also joyfully scored for the game’s epic gladiator genre. Much of the calming atmosphere is produced by the soothing tunes that quickly helm into battle tracks, making the gaming feel more complete for its short deliverance of essential co-op entertainment.
Are You Not Entertained?!
The only issue I have with Cubers: Arena is its repetitive nature of combat control and character animation. At times, it felt as if I was just pushing the same buttons over and over again like a tedious chore, and it wasn’t enough to make some of the more electrifying encounters feel more alive. While the animations for the in-battle foes are expected to perform the same gestures and moves, the allies at the Oasis simply do the same task in a permanent loop. This is greatly exemplified by the annoying iron banging from the equipment trader Edin, who seems to be working on the same sword every day. These issues are tiny in retrospect in regards to the entire experience for Cubers: Arena, but they’re just a couple things to keep in mind with.
Furthermore, a bizarre and irritating bug can occur when you’re at the final round of the level (out of three to complete a level within an arena). Upon killing everyone before moving onto round three, the match will persist onward with a timer and zero enemies, as if the game had registered an unreachable foe. Therefore, the match can’t be completed, and you’ll have to restart from round one. This can be particularly frustrating when you’re so close to completing a rough part in the match and the glitch just smacks you in the face of your confidence. This problem is rare to run into, but it’s still a stressful one nonetheless.
After a while, the clean gameplay can become mildly mundane since it lacks variety in a few areas, and the brief plot points are mere moments of how you did and what’s next. Not a lot of character development is established, and Baller ends up being a character with a simple objective and a few grunts as he works his way to the top of the warrior war games.
If you’re a solo player, Cubers: Arena can grow stale after reaching the highest rank of 40 in the game. The replay value remains at a moderate level if the mini-games are of any interest to the player. The local versus options are for chuckles and giggles, while the other co-op games of Time Attack, Mushrooming, Defender, and Wave can keep you and your friend busy for a bit – not for too long, though.
Verdict: Cubers: Arena can be tons of fun to play through its multiple quirky hordes of box-shaped adversaries and their bigger and more powerful allies. Tricking out Baller with the best gear was a good rush of spending my money to get the most outstanding weapons, and the game is just beautiful to look at. The environments, character design, blood, and combat make it worth trying out, and it’s an impressive feat from a solo developer. Aside from its slight repetitive gameplay and a few glitches that could interrupt the experience, it’s still a great co-op arena title for those looking for their next side-by-side adventure.
- Sublime and comical character and level design.
- Fighting styles are great for combative experimentation.
- Gameplay can be addicting at times with all the chaos and blood being shed.
- Co-Op is where the fun is at.
- Overall short experience for single player.
- Controls feel slightly hackneyed, lessening replay value.
- Repetitive in animation and progression.
- A couple of glitches that can disrupt the game.