Maltese developer Hacksaw Gaming, the scratch card guys, are back with another slot in their Pocketz Series to while away some spare time. Continuing the approach used in Om Nom, Cubes is another minimalists dream using stripped-down visuals paired with simple, yet compelling gameplay. The resulting package is certainly unique, and while it won't appeal to everyone, Cubes has the potential to fill the void for certain player types or gaming moods.
The first impressions raised half an eyebrow. Picture the result of a successful Tetris/Rubik's Cube Tinder hook up, and you're not far off the mark. A 5x5 grid of plain coloured squares sits before a greyed out cuboid background that lights up white from time to time.
Accompanying the simple visuals is a relaxing tribal beat, rather soothing to the ears. If you close your eyes, you can effortlessly picture some guy in dreads busking on the street for loose change, tapping away on his Bali Steel Pan drum.
Hitting spin sets the grid in motion, yet you can't really call it a spin. Instead of tumbles, or spinning reels, the 25 blocks leap into the air and land in a rearranged pattern. If 5 or more similarly coloured symbols appear connecting vertically or horizontally, then extra squares are added to the grid, expanding it to 7x7 in size.
Now, if the original combination increases in size, or new winners land, the process repeats up to a maximum grid of 11x11 in size. Chain reactions continue until no new clusters or expanded combos appear; then the win is calculated and paid out. That is unless, a particular set of clusters form, triggering free spins – more on this in the features section.
Playable across all devices from 20 p/c up to £/€100 per spin, , and particularly optimized for mobile devices, the math model players get is a medium volatile one with a default RTP rating of 96.35%. The hit rate is theoretically quite high at 31.94%, but it didn't always feel like that. During testing, swathes of dead spins would occur until something interesting happened. At least the soundtrack is a relaxing one in those moments.
The symbols used in the game are as basic as it gets. There are six different squares, coloured green, yellow, red, light blue, purple, and dark blue. Interestingly, the squares all have the same value from 0.10x for a 5 square cluster up to 40x for clusters of 25+. So that's it for the symbols, there is no fussing about with wilds or scatters around here. However, there are a few features padding out the tetragonal gameplay; it's not all shuffling cubes about.
Keeping play interesting, there are three features to look out for. These are the Middle Multiplier, Free Spins, and the Colour Blast! (their emphasis, not ours). Every spin during the base game has an 'X' on the middle cube. If this cube is part of a winning cluster, the X reveals a multiplier that is applied to the win. The number of cubes involved in the win adds 1 to the multiplier up to a maximum of x22.
Free spins are triggered by landing a number of different coloured clusters. Whenever a uniquely coloured cluster lands, one letter from the word CUBES above the grid lights up. If you manage to illuminate the whole word, then 10 free spins are awarded along with a random colour. All wins in that colour become sticky for the duration of the free spins feature. During free spins, the size of the grid is also sticky, so it does not reset between spins.
The final feature is the Colour Blast which is only possible to hit on free spins. Should players reach a cluster of 70 cubes during the free spin mode, then they are awarded an instant win of 2,500 times the bet.
Well, it's safe to say that Hacksaw Gaming is the scratch card guys no more. Cubes once again demonstrates the team's knack for developing highly playable slots. While Cubes is not a high impact game offering anything particular unmissable, there is an allure to it. Like Hacksaw's previous slots, Cubes has a certain x-factor that makes it easy to justify having one more spin. Like Tetris, there is something thrilling about getting shapes to line up in a pleasingly geometric fashion - even more so when those shapes payout.
Not that we are talking about huge wins when they do. At full power, Cubes can produce rewards of up to 3,167 times the bet. So no, not massive sums of cash, but possibly enough to satisfy those that dig the unusual gameplay and math model.
The Colour Blast is a nice touch if you can make to the free spins. That in itself proved to be an almost Herculean task during testing. If it's all-time wins you're after, it might be worth taking a look at Hacksaw's fixed jackpot slot The Haunted Circus for potential multi-million Euro payouts.
To sum up, Cubes is a thoroughly modern game for the smartphone generation. Easy to play, light-hearted, while still offering the odd decent win. Clearly, Cubes isn't one of those massive, high volatile, high potential slots you make it a personal mission to crack. But, that's not its intention, nor that of the series. Cubes is a game you can easily envisage players firing up on their phones to kill a bit of time with – which is pretty much the definition of the Pocketz Series right there.
Cubes unique design and novel game type make it a fun alternative to its more visceral inspirations.