Indie Quickie: Ubinota

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

Ubinota_1

What is it? A block-painting logic/physics puzzle game set in a world floating way up in the sky.

Who made it and where can you get it? Apparently the Rotateam developed game’s original release dates back a couple years, but it has only just now been brought to Steam courtesy of Plug In Digital. It’s $7.99 full price, or $6.79 on a launch week sale until March 11th.

How much did we play? Right around two hours, clearing three worlds and making it shortly into the fourth for a total of 48 puzzles completed. According to the Steam page, there are seven worlds and more than 100 levels in all, so it would seem that I am in the neighborhood of halfway through the game.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements or other details you should know about? The options menu doesn’t offer anything but music/sound checkboxes, which means no windowed view or resolution tweaking. Achievements are included, but other Steamworks features like cloud saves and trading cards are not currently supported. The game is controlled entirely with a mouse, so there’s no need for gamepad support or key remapping. A scroll wheel comes in handy for zooming the view in and out. (If there’s another input for zoom, I couldn’t find it.)

Ubinota_2

Why should you play it?

    • Painting the Cube: Playing as Lucien, a young lad who’s beginning his first day on the job as a painter, your main objective in this inventive puzzler is to prevent the sky kingdom in which he lives from falling out of the clouds. Magic paint is the secret sauce for saving the day. You see, each puzzle consists of a different configuration of stacked cubes which serve as the foundation holding up the homes of fellow citizens. To make sure the houses remain safe and sound, a fresh coat of magic paint, which really is more like colored superglue, must be brushed on to stick adjacent cubes together, either to link directly to a fixed anchor point or set a base to support the weight of other blocks. Once you’re done painting, you hit a big red button and watch as like-colored cubes form a rigid structure and hopefully stay afloat while any unpainted, white cubes topple harmlessly out of the sky like a stack of play blocks being knocked over by a child. Like any good puzzle game, the levels begin simple but steadily increase in complexity as paint supply limitations become stricter, multiple colors must be used at the same time, and paints with different magical properties are introduced, such as red paint, which makes cubes buoyant, or green paint, which has weaker sticking power than the regular paints and thus must be consolidated in large groupings in order to remain upright. Puzzles in this painting puzzler come in many colors.

    • Multiple Solutions: I love puzzle games that don’t lock you into figuring out the one and only solution the developers coded for each level, and that’s an area where this game definitely shines. Once you make it beyond the easy, early stages, Ubinota‘s puzzles begin to feel somewhat freeform in their solutions. On a number of occasions, I could tell that I had stumbled onto a solution that probably wasn’t intended, as I would just barely keep all houses intact with paint supply still remaining in my bucket. (Some of the more difficult achievements even tie in with this by rewarding specific alternate solutions to certain puzzles.) It sort of conjures similar feelings of suspense as playing a game like Jenga. You paint a structure you think will hold up, then hit the activate button and watch the effects of gravity unfold, crossing your fingers and whispering to yourself “Please don’t fall. Please don’t fall. Please don’t fall.” as a house teeters on the edge of a foundation that isn’t as sturdy as you had hoped.

    • Head in the Clouds: From its cute story to its dopey hero, who soars through the fluffy clouds on a flying sailboat and is far more concerned about when he gets to take lunch breaks than painting (and yes, he’ll even eat the paint), and from its colorful cel-shaded visuals to its soothing music, Ubinota gives off an appropriately light and airy vibe. While attempting to solve a tricky puzzle, don’t be surprised if you find yourself lulled into a zen state of mind, losing all track of time and real-world surroundings. Paint may be limited, but time is not a factor, so you don’t have to worry about racing to beat a clock or speed running to attain leaderboard bragging rights. Even as the complexity ramps up, the game’s cozy atmosphere welcomes you in without piling on pressure to play at a pace you aren’t comfortable with.

Parting Thoughts: Ubinota is a clever little game of puzzles that fits somewhere in between Jenga and Picross 3D as a test of logic and spatial recognition as well as basic physics and architectural principles as you essentially solve floating, three-dimensional mazes and connect a painted trail of cubes that will hold together as one with solid structural integrity. Halfway through it has managed to straddle the line between simplicity and complexity with proper balance, neither coming across as too easy or too difficult or frustrating. I’d definitely recommend it as a low intensity puzzler to play around with while breaking from more involved games, or just as a way to unwind and detach from the stresses of real life for a bit.

Disclosure: A free Steam code for Ubinota was provided to VGBlogger.com for coverage purposes.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!