Quantum Conundrum Review
publisher: Square Enix
developer: Airtight Games
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Jun 21, 12
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Kim Swift, a former team member at Valve and mostly known for her work on Portal and Left 4 Dead, has joined development studio Airtight Games to bring us a new first-person puzzle game, called Quantum Conundrum. So, right away, you can see that this is something you should have a go at. Well, we've tried it, certainly. Not only that, but we've spent hours and hours playing it and we were impressed with some aspects of the game, although there are one or two things we felt could've used more attention from the folks at Airtight.
Here's how things kick off. You play as a silent boy protagonist, a nephew of Professor Fitz Quadwrangle - voiced by John De Lancie . As you arrive to Quadwrangle's mansion, you discover that he's working on an intriguing new experiment. The experiments denote traveling between dimensions and, unsurprisingly, things turn ugly and the poor old Professor gets trapped in a pocket dimension. Without being able to do anything about it, the Professor manages to establish communication with you to guide you through his mansion and to, hopefully, get him out the nasty situation.
This picture makes me want to go out... oh wait, I can't.
Let's play ball!
The premise of Quantum Conundrum is somewhat different than what you're used to seeing in games like Portal and Portal 2. Yes, the comparison with these games is inevitable. The main reason for that is the similar first-person physics-based gameplay mechanics, in addition to features like the protagonist being guided by the voice of an unseen character. You'll realize that moving around and solving puzzles feels very similar to Portal. The difference here though, is that the player gets to manipulate four unique dimensions or rather, four different realities. So, instead of the 'Portal Gun' you get to use the Professor's glove which triggers the dimensions. There's the fluffy dimension, where everything weighs ten times less than it normally weighs. There's the Heavy dimension, where objects are ten times heavier. The Slow dimension, where everything's ten times slower. Finally, Reverse Gravity, where... gravity is, ya know, reversed.
The game allows you to utilize the specific features of each dimension and combine them to solve a particular challenge and then move on to the next area. Now, there are some truly creative ideas, as far as the puzzles themselves are concerned. At times you're gonna sit there, facing a puzzle, thinking: "Man, this is a tough one. Am I so dim-witted?" However, usually, it doesn't take that long to solve any puzzle in this game, although you're definitely gonna scratch your head more than once while attempting to solve some of them. This is one of best aspects of Quantum Conundrum. No matter what the puzzle revolves around -- simple physics or basic platforming -- it's still fun to play and you do have that sense of accomplishment when you're done. In other words, you feel like you've used your brain and there aren't many games out there that let you apply your intelligence to solve the problem at hand. Well, granted, there are a few, but not many.
Switching between the four dimensions is often enjoyable, albeit there's a considerable degree of trial and error. It's not that big a deal. Dying in this game means that you're doing something wrong. Usually, this means you've taken a wrong step or just took a leap too soon or too late. So, basically, there's a lot of clumsy first-person platforming to do, no matter which dimension you're required to use. Even so, this is not as frustrating as you might think.
You're gonna scratch your head more than a few times to go through some of the challenges, cool soundtrack;
Not a very engaging world, too much emphasis on platform-oriented puzzles.