Welcome to Coverage Club, the regular series where we shift our critical eye towards smaller games that deserve some attention. Each week, our review editors select two titles and provide honest first impressions in the same style as our full reviews. Games can range from brand new titles hitting Early Access to older hidden gems that never got their due. No matter your preferences, you’re sure to find something off the beaten path here. In this week’s episode, we go full cyber. We build the gateway to the information superhighway with PC Building Simulator. Then, we get on the grid with the cube based puzzles of Cubiques. Log in and tune out, let's get to the games.
PC Building Simulator
Covered by Robert N. Adams
I've played plenty of simulator games, but PC Building Simulator is the first one that I'm intimately familiar with. The premise of the game is simple: you've inherited a computer repair business from your family and it's up to you to keep it all afloat. A tutorial and a sandbox mode are available for people who aren't well-versed with the ins and outs of putting together a personal computer, but I decided to hop right into the campaign. Let's see how the game manages to capture the dual experiences of building a PC and managing clients in this industry.
A lot of the systems you're working with are relatively new. Considering that the game's timeline begins in early 2018, I expect to service towers up to ten years old. That would likely mean adding several generations of parts with their own quirks (like different numbers of pins on RAM modules). It's a forgivable omission for the sake of less work on the developer's end, but it's nonetheless a departure from realism.
The act of building a system is more or less accurate. I must say, the state of computers is much nicer than what you see in the real world. In the two hours I've played, I've yet to see a single dead bug, gigantic dust bunny, or long-forgotten stash of narcotics. Systems typically have all of their screws and cases are sometimes dusty at worst. It would have been nice to see missing parts or frayed wires that are indicative of poor maintenance.
The game covers one of the most common jobs you'll see in the industry. Computers wracked with viruses that need to be cleaned out with a simple scan. However, another equally common job is missing. You'll swap hard drives for customers in many instances. Despite that, you never have to back up their data, reinstall operating systems, or image a drive. This is a glaring omission that is a regular occurrence for a professional working in the computer repair business. I cannot count the number of "I don't want to lose my family photos" jobs I've done over the years. Data is the one thing that is truly irreplaceable for a customer.
Much like the PC building portion of the game, customer behavior is mostly accurate. Customers will often give vague information and occasionally chat about unrelated subjects. They treat PCs like appliances akin to microwaves or toasters rather than the complex machines they truly are. This is dead-on to how many customers behave in the industry. Customers don't seem to mind used parts and I haven't seen many who set a very tight budget. Both of these are experiences that I've occasionally had to deal with in real life.
The career mode boils down to receiving customer PCs, ordering parts where needed, effecting repairs, and collecting payment. You have to pay a utility bill and rent on certain days. Your own salary doesn't factor into the game's calculations. There doesn't seem to be any way to work on weekends, either. If a job absolutely had to be done ASAP, I might work on a Saturday or Sunday if I had the time and the client was willing to pay.
PC Building Simulator gets it mostly right. The two hours I've spent in the game had all of the fun of working on PCs for people with none of the stress. It's an Early Access title, so there are still some kinks to work out and new features to develop. If you're interested in tinkering with computers without risking thousands in real-world parts, you should consider giving PC Building Simulator a whirl.
Covered by Robert Grosso
It is always hard to judge a game like Cubiques. A short puzzle game from a singular developer, Dilmer Valecillos, your goal is to navigate a red cube across all the white tiles in your path to progress to the next level. The catch; each tile you move over disappears. It is a simple game in concept and execution, and it is perfect for a casual puzzle fan looking for something new to try.
The challenge found in Cubiques is relatively simple; finding the right path to the next level by solving the puzzle as you move. The keys are basic directional movements, having your red cube stomp across the layouts with relative swiftness if you hit the keyboard quickly enough. Each puzzle has a fixed camera angle as well, but modeled in full 3-D, providing a sort of isometric viewpoint that players will have to adjust from to progress further into the game.
As you get to later levels, new tiles join the mix to offer further challenges to the player. Some of them are benign, such as black tiles that never disappear. Others become the real challenge of the game; grey tiles need to be stepped on twice, which is not too difficult so long as you have the right pattern down. The hardest tiles to navigate are warp tiles; pale yellow squares that are a one-way warp to a different section of the puzzle map.
The real challenge of the game is these warp tiles. You need to totally clear your section before stepping on one, or else you will have to restart a puzzle. Some of the games later puzzles make this incredibly difficult, one had me stuck and retry over twenty times to solve. It was an achievement to just finish that puzzle, only to run into another, equally difficult stage shortly thereafter.
This is a good thing, as one of the big problems with Cubiques is how easy the game is. The difficulty only really ramps up the closer you are to the end-game. To put it in perspective, the first 50 puzzles out of 73 are incredibly easy. Some of them are criminally easy, to the point of not even being a challenge. Even the more difficult puzzles, while taking time to solve, are doable in a relatively quick time. With a small number of stages to go through, a skilled player can finish the game in one sitting if they're not careful.
Cubiques is one of those small, casual puzzle games that can capture your attention for an hour or two before you beat it. Simple polygons and geometric shapes, a piano concerto on loop, and over 70 small puzzles to solve. It's best when you play in spurts like a phone game. Tackle a few puzzles here and there before moving onto your next daily task. All in all, you have a competent package on your hands for puzzle fans to find some mild challenge with.
What do you think of this week’s Coverage Club selections? Do you know of an overlooked game that deserves another chance? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow our Steam Curator to keep up to date with all our reviews.