I can see the potential.

So, let's look at what we have here. Survive, Mr. Cube! is a lightweight little roguelite, with some progression mechanics and the sort of cubey low-poly aesthetic that's often a go-to in this post-Minecraft world we now live in. The pitch is simple; explore a series of maps, find the portals to lead you to the boss of a region, kill the boss, get to the next region, repeat. If you die, you lose it all...well, most of it, at any rate, and try again.

The actual gameplay is a pretty simple, straightforward affair. You're basically running on twin-stick controls; left moves, right attacks, with every swing/shot taking out some stamina. You've got two weapon slots and four potion slots, and anything else has to simply be left behind.

So to some degree, that all right there describes the game thoroughly enough. But there are details to discuss, and the actual pieces of the experience.

For instance, one of the big things that affects the gameplay loop is that you don't actually know where the boss door is. You start on a random point on a 4x4 grid, and work your way through it in a maze-like fashion basically blindly. Each playfield is a self-contained space, with one to three hidden portals on it that take you to the various other spaces on the board that that one has access to. When you boil it down, you're trying to solve a maze where you don't know where the end of it is.

Now, how much this bothers you will vary from person to person. After all, on the one hand, the classic roguelike Nethack doesn't tell you where the staircase is on any given floor...

But on the other hand, that game does tell you from the start that you need to get to the bottom, and so every staircase down is closer to your goal, and every staircase up is further away from it. Survive, Mr. Cube! is rather less clear about your goal from the start, except for the basic idea of survival.

And I'm going to warn you now, that's kind of the theme of this review. There's a lot of solid ideas in this game, if sometimes a bit well-worn, but the edges are kind of rough everywhere and the fit from one piece to the next isn't the best.

Sometimes this even means pieces just aren't clicking together properly. Like, the game gives you a tightly limited potion inventory; you can only carry four, and unless later areas change up the available options, there are four potion types. Health boost, stamina boost, speed boost, attack boost. But then, around every corner is another treasure chest, which will have at least one potion in it...And if it's a mimic and you kill it, it has an incredibly high chance of dropping a second potion.

So what should have been this tension of very limited supplies, instead becomes a constant rotation and modest frustration at best, as keeping a basic stock on hand is incredibly simple. Even the one place where the small inventory matters, the boss battles, then give you enemies that drop potions, so keeping stocked up in that area isn't so bad, either. (To say nothing of how many heart-points you can potentially take in there, giving you a lot of extra material to work with if the dice roll well for you.)

There's this general...Tension between various elements, in a "left hand doesn't know what the right is doing" kind of way. The game's trying for horror-comedy, but its art style and gameplay only kind of lends itself to the comedy and not at all to the horror. It's a roguelite where you're expected to die a lot, but you're presented with a story at the start that's just personal enough that it feels like you're Supposed to stick with this one guy...And any tragedy of his inevitable death just, isn't acknowledged in the slightest.

Of course, a lot of this could be remedied if the game, ultimately, worked well. If the core gameplay loop was solid, I quite frankly wouldn't care about a lot of this and would forgive it a lot of problems.

...So about that gameplay loop.

There's a lot of opinion that could be made on how the game works in theory. Honestly, on the theoretical level, I think a lot of the core loop works pretty well. Exploration has a nice zen quality when you get into it and get all focused, some of the weapons are quite satisfying, and in general, despite some tension (like the potion thing) the structure could hold together pretty well.

Except for one little issue.

The controls lag.

By a good quarter to half second.

In an action game.

That's...Pretty, pretty bad.

Now, I'm assuming this isn't on purpose. If it is, then that is a truly massive mistake. If it's not, then the question I'm left with is where is this lag being introduced. I can tell you it's not my TV, because plenty of other games on plenty of other platforms see zero lag like this, including some twitchy action stuff. Hell, some of the menu functions of the game are nice and snappy, so it's just the core gameplay that's delayed.

That question, where this lag is coming from and thus how it could be removed, decides a lot of this game's fate. Like I said at the top, I think there's a lot of potential here. It won't be the most original thing ever, but it could definitely be worth your time.

If some of these problems are fixed. And so I'm left primarily with the question of how difficult that might be. Because if it's easy, then this could be as simple as waiting for a patch, and hopefully hearing an email saying I should re-review it. If it's buried deeper into the code somehow, some fundamental part of the game introducing it...Well, that's a problem.

So for now...Hold back and wait. It's not worth it like this.