June 17, 2014 10:50 AM | Lena LeRay
European developer Liquid Flower games has recently released Qbeh-1 on Steam, a 3D puzzle platformer which is reminiscent of Portal in the simplicity of its game mechanics but which forgoes humor in favor of a beautiful environment with a mysterious atmosphere. It's the prequel to a shorter, free game they released called Qbeh, but players don't need to have played Qbeh to enjoy Qbeh-1.
The player is plopped in what seem to be ruins floating over a deserted planet. Aside from the occasional tree or flower, the player's only company is stone. Glowing cubes are scattered about the ruins and can be picked up and placed in certain locations to serve purposes such as stepping stones and unlocking doors as the player seeks the way out of the current area. Exploration, both in terms of wandering around and trying different solutions, is a key element of the game.
Qbeh-1 does a good job of teaching the player to use their cubes effectively through level design, with complexity gradually increasing from stage to stage. It does a terrible job of teaching the player the controls, though. Even with years of first-person shooters under my belt, I had to check the options to see what all controls there were. Once I did that, though, I had no problems with the game.
It's a low-pressure game that allows players to proceed at their own pace. People who like their puzzle platformers heavy on the platforming and light on the puzzling should look elsewhere, but people who enjoy environmental puzzles and atmospheric aesthetics should definitely give it a try.
Qbeh-1 is $9.99 on Steam for Windows and Mac and has a demo available, with Steamworks and Oculus Rift support to be added later this summer. Its predecessor, Qbeh, can be downloaded via Desura and has Oculus Rift support already. The soundtrack by Launchable Socks can be streamed or purchased on Bandcamp for €4 (approx. $5.50 USD).