DownPlay Reviews Returns - Quantum Conundrum - User Reviews - www.GameInformer.com
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DownPlay Reviews Returns - Quantum Conundrum

Due to this time of years astoundingly barren release schedule, I reached back a few months for something to review for the fear of starving from lack of new releases while I wait cautiously for Fall Of Cybertron. What I found was Quantum Conundrum, a first person physics puzzler featuring a silent protagonist and a conspicuous voiceover of questionable helpfulness. Not to be confused with Portal, the other one. As a matter of fact, this game takes a lot of inspiration from Portal, but before the comparison to such a great game gets you all rared up to dump 20 more dollars into the endless money void that is Steam, know that all that is taken from Portal is done completely wrong. The characters, the setpieces, the humour, and most arduous of all, the ending. More on that later. Anyway, you play a nameless, voiceless, and because of first-person game standards, legless, 12-year old boy sent to his genius uncle's house, who is strangely not there to greet you. Instead, he explains to you over the house's PA system that you need to rescue him and the house from a weird pocket dimension. It even does the thing at the beginning like when Wheatley in the opening to Portal 2 asks Chell to talk but she jumps instead. But in this game the opportunity for such wit is conpletely lost with the phrase "Jump if you can hear me." It was truly dissapointing and an omen of how the rest of the game played out. Shockingly, the game's attempts to ape Portal actually degrade its overall quality. One of the strong points of Portal was its subtle but downright superb humour that flowed smoothly into whatever gameplay point it was. With QC, all the "funny" dialogue is saved for the extremely boring and repetitive hallways connecting each puzzle, so it flows very unevenly. It also tries to hard to be funny, ditching subtlety and often coming across as immature. That aside, the brightest moments of the game are when it breaks away from jumping on the Portal wagon and actually focuses on being a new concept. The dimension switching mechanic works very well and tests the players skills of focus and timing, especially when it involves first-person platforming, a concept that, in general, still needs work. Seriously though, why cant we see our legs? The difficulty curve is quite the annoyance, as the first 90% of the puzzles can be solved as easily as beating someone with Alzheimer's at Cap Shuffle, when suddenly the last few puzzles leave you failure after failure. Speaking of last few puzzles, that brings me to the most excrutiating part of the game for me, the ending. You know how in many games, the player character sacrifices himself for the greater good of everyone else? Not your helpless, 12-year-old ass, no way! In QC, you end up safe and snug in the pocket dimension, while your uncle takes over to solve the trans-dimensional apocalypse that YOU end up causing. We played through that entire game with the establishment that you and only you can save your uncle from what HE had caused. Not only does the existing problem not get solved, but you end up only making it worse. If you want to make a game with a Dick ending like that, at least make sure the preceding gameplay can overshadow it (See also: Halo 2). Also, and yes I know this is just my opinion, but this game has the worst end credits music ever. You know how Portal's end credit song was subtle and retained the game's humour while seamlessly merging with the tone of the game's ending? Ha! In QC, less than a second after the screen fades to black, it starts blaring this awful, college rock, aural vomit that sounds like Green Day got drunk out of their minds, forgot all the words and every other note in Basket Case, but went on stage anyways and just winged it, with the singer reciting the Torah very loudly instead of actually trying to make sense. Sure, in hindsight, the lyrics were ripped out of the content of the game, but the song in general was just awful in such a way that it killed the whole experience for me.
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