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You Win Again, Technology

Score: 8 / 10

Quantum Conundrum

PC - Xbox Live - PSN
Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: June 21st, 2012 (July 11th for consoles)

 

 

 

Pros:

  • Dimension switching gameplay is simple, and easy to get the hang of
  • Feeling of satisfaction from solving each room never lessens
  • Cartoon atmosphere is enjoyable and entertaining

Cons:

  • Repeating interluding hallways and textures become an eye sore
  • Abrupt, and lackluster ending
  • Little incentive in replay value

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 end-credits tune.

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.

Extra Credit

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.

Overall

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.

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