Cube World Alpha Review: It’s Not Another Minecraft Clone

At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that Cube World was just ‘another’ Minecraft clone. Yes this game is voxel based. Yes it has been deployed using the same ‘paid alpha’ strategy that has become commonplace amongst the PC gaming world, and yes it is made by a very small (two person) team of indie developers – however that’s where the majority of the similarities’ end.

Cube World is an RPG set in a colourful procedurally generated world that features multiple biomes to get questing in, from lush green plains to arid sand swept deserts and chilling snow plains, there is plenty of variation to the land when you’re not sailing across vast oceans to another continent.

Warrior Class
It’s a wide open cube world

Cube World allows you to select from multiple races, they are for now only cosmetic choices that have no impact on the gameplay. Deciding on your class will be your first choice and this is split into warrior, mage, ranger and rogue styles. I chose to be a warrior hoping that the traditional tank style would get me through. I was wrong. Cube World at lvl 1 is tough, so tough in fact that the cute peaceful cow you just bludgeoned is now stomping on your face until you disintegrate into a small puddle of pixels.

To avoid the same fate your only hope is to quickly make your way to the nearest town to gain a brief respite and to look into the game’s systems, which are not explained in any way. It’s only after gaining a few levels and choosing your class specialization that the game really starts to open up.

Cube World employs a basic merchant, crafting, and even customization system. All players are able to create health potions and food items, but weapons and their subsequent upgrading is limited to only those available to your class; for example a warrior can only craft great swords, shields, maces etc. It’s good that it had this limitation, but it would be nice to have more items specific to the class and more items in general. However, this is a paid alpha after all, and I’m confident that more content will be become available over the coming months.

Cube World inventory management
Cube World inventory management

One of the more interesting features of Cube World, are pets. Most of the creatures that you stumble upon in your adventure – be they friendly or hostile can become a pet. All you need is the right ‘pet food’ and the creature will become yours to keep and swap out at any time with another. You are never really told what animal likes what, but it was fun to experiment with different foods on different creatures. You can carry as many as you like in your inventory and have multiple pets of the same type, which is a good thing as there are many pets to be found in the vast wilderness.

Pets help you in combat, but their most useful trait is that some of them can be climbed on and rode around the countryside giving you a much needed boost in speed. All in all there are a few ways to traverse the landscape, the hang-glider being a particular favourite though, as up high away from the various cuboid enemies, Cube World becomes beautifully serene.

Pets are loyal companions and sometimes transportation
Pets are loyal companions and sometimes transportation

Combat is pretty basic; mouse 1 will do a standard primary attack, whereas mouse two will do a secondary attack. You can make this secondary attack more powerful by landing several successful primary attacks that will build up your attack meter and allow you to hold down mouse 2 for a more powerful secondary that has the chance of knocking over foes and allowing you to get a few uncontested hits in.

You also have the ability to unlock special moves that can be used for offense or defence, and they become particularly useful against tougher enemies and bosses, of which there are many, as they’re generated after each day/night cycle. Creatures have multiple levels and drop loot specific to their level when they are killed allowing you to always find something decent after a few hard battles. Dungeons are aplenty too, with varying locations specific to that world, in the grasslands you’ll find castles, the desert contains pyramids and the jungle areas contain Aztec style temples.

A combo of special moves and attacks are needed to defeat most bosses
A combo of special moves and attacks are needed to defeat most bosses

I really enjoyed what I have played of Cube World so far, solo, I’m sure this game is monstrously hard – at least initially, but as with most games the fun really begins when you play co-op. It was so much fun in fact, that it caused regular arguments between my girlfriend and I as to whom the chocolate cupcake should go to after a particularly hard boss fight.

Loot can cause tension while playing cooperatively
Loot can cause tension while playing cooperatively


This argument also reared its ugly head when she really wanted an Alpaca pet and I ruthlessly nabbed it. Needless to say she wasn’t happy and after ten minutes of guilt ridden questing I dropped it on the ground for her to pick up. So there it sat, the shame of my actions hanging in the air and then boom – it was gone, stuffed in her virtual backpack as she leapt off the mountain, hang gliding to the ground, off to beat the next boss.

Cube World – Unofficial Alpha Trailer

[schema type=”review” name=”Cube World Alpha | Review Summary” description=”The Awesome: Pets, Weapon customization, Beautiful yet simple scenery, Scale of the map | The Not so Awesome: Limited crafting options, No tutorials for game mechanics, Hard for newcomers” rev_name=”Cube World Alpha” rev_body=”Cube world is a paid alpha that contains a lot of game for such early development and speaks volumes for this type of business model, especially after recent problems with Kickstarter projects. It’s relatively cheap and incredibly fun in multiplayer; though expect to have a few rough first hours getting your bearings in the game.” author=”TenBensons” pubdate=”2013-07-18″ user_review=”8″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”10″ ]

The reviewer received a review copy of the game for the PC platform.

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James Payne

The author James Payne

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