The lights are on
Score: 8 / 10
PC - Xbox Live - PSN
Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: June 21st, 2012 (July 11th for consoles)
Physics make the world go round, and have really begun to make games
more entertaining. From more satisfying explosions to more realistic
environments, the small touch of reality adds a lot to an experience.
The most beneficial use of physics lies with puzzle games in providing
logical, challenging tasks to accomplish. Quantum Conundrum looks to
further this trend in providing a multitude of physics based puzzles
requiring creative thinking to progress through each room. With a former co-creater of Portal 2 as
its design lead, expectations were pretty high in terms of quality for the game. In the end, Quantum Conundrum gains some fantastic momentum before coming to an abrupt hault.
Imagine, If You Will
You assume the role of a twelve
year old on an annual visit to his uncle's mansion. His latest
undertaking causes an explosion, sending him to another dimension with
short term memory loss and leaving you alone to a mansion full of faulty
experiments. Donning his latest dimension altering glove, he guides you
through the task of restoring power to the mansion and finding a way to
bring your uncle back. The game does not possess a very compelling
narrative, but the simple story is all that is necessary for a puzzle
title. The quirky persona of your uncle will guide you through each room
and acts as the soul source of dialogue with only an occasional
cutscene to hint an ominous events to come. The story serves its purpose, but the abrupt ending will do little in terms of closure.
The look in Quantum Conundrum is akin to a Saturday morning cartoon.
A palette of colors adorns each room, portraits of characters change
with each dimension switch, and fuzzy adorable Ike creatures add to the
humor of the game. With every change in dimension, the environment around
you adapts accordingly with the fluffy dimension adding a lighter haze
to your view and the gravity dimension throwing a green hue about the
room. The textures and lighting may not exceed most of what is out
there, but it melds well with the overall cartoonish atmosphere.
Your uncle is the sole source of conversational dialogue, and John De
Lancie makes a fantastic mad scientist persona with numerous chuckle worthy puns and quips to break the silence. The audio is all tied
together with a fitting original soundtrack, complete with one catchy
The Powerglove of 2012
From a first person perspective
you solve a series of physics based puzzles to progress from room to
room. These usually involve hitting a series of switches to domino over into opening a door. The mansion is split into three zones, each
culminating with powering a generator at the conclusion to open up the
next area. As you enter each room you cannot shake the feeling of being a lab rat as you press every button available to you to piece together the intended solution.
The core concept lies in switching between four different dimensions
to alter the density of objects, time, and gravity of the world around you. Fluffy dimensions makes things adorable
and lighter, allowing you pick up heavy safes with ease to move them around the room or create momentary platforms near a fan. Heavy dimension
makes everything heavier, offering objects immunity to being destroyed by
lasers and allowing cardboard boxes to hold down switches or break
glass when thrown. Slow-mo dimension will slow everything around you while you maintain normal speed. Lastly,
anti-gravity dimension changes the polarity of gravity for objects in the room. You soon find you are able
to mix these abilities together to add further possibilities, such as
picking up a safe with fluffy, tossing it and hopping on with slow mo,
then using it to cross a gap by alternating anti-gravity on and off.
Accompanying these physics altering features are a slew of hazards
that you must overcome. Lasers that can destroy objects, ceiling height fans that can blow your platform away, and bottomless pits are just a few of the
many hazards you have to work around to reach your goal. Your glove
powers are also kept in check by locking out select dimensions until you retrieve the appropriate battery. Rarely will you ever have all four dimensions
available in each room, and in one puzzle you even choose your preferred power at the start. The later complexity in utilizing spring boards and platforming with slow mo can be entertaining, but no puzzle really sticks with you.
The core game itself is completed in
about four hours time depending on how often you stray from the beaten path, but there are a few things you can do once all is
said and done. A level select option is available with opportunities to
beat time goals or complete each room without dying. There are
also a number of hidden collectibles tucked away in less obvious corners
of the map to hunt for, but the most these will do is add decor to your hub room.
Though DLC is inbound, there is not a lot offered considering
the price tag. Some challenge rooms or a multiplayer feature would have
been welcome, but as it is Quantum Conundrum feels like a bare bones campaign. The general experience is great, but it tends to get dragged down with a few issues in platforming and finding your footing, repeating hallways, and a lackluster closing segment.
Quantum Conundrum is a unique, albeit
short-lived, experience. The dimensional rifts add plenty of variety to
the puzzles, and the feeling of accomplishment with each room never
lessens. Its obvious similarities to Portal feel more like an
inspiration, and less like a cheap rip-off. The small nuances can get in the way of the game's intended experience, but you should be able to look past them to see the solid puzzle game that lies underneath and fans of Portal will find plenty to enjoy.