Developed by: Airtight Games
Published by: Square Enix
Genre: First person puzzle/platformer
Platform: PC, XBLA, PSN
Play it if: You loved Portal and are looking to fill your puzzling fix.
Skip it if: You like satisfying endings.
Hatched from the same gene pool as the now classic Portal, Quantum Conundrum is a first person, puzzle/platformer that forces you to mess with our perception of reality in order to solve it’s puzzles.
Designed by Kim Swift, one of the leads on Portal, and Airtight Games (Dark Void), Quantum Conundrum puts you in the shoes of a twelve year old boy who is trapped in his uncles mansion. Among your uncle’s fantastical creations is an Inderdimensional Shift Device (IDS), a glove that can shift the dimensions of its surroundings. Using this, you must activate three generators scattered throughout the mansion and hopefully bring your uncle back from his inderdimensional limbo. John De Lancie does a superb job voicing your uncle, who’s omnipresent voice will dispense hints and a little back story into the workings of the mansion. Unfortunately, the rest of the story falls rather short of expectations. By the last act the game keeps teasing a big reveal but provides an ending that just…ends. There is no real sense of closure and the lackluster ending only serves as a way to show how paper thin the story was.
Nonetheless, the true meat of the game lies in the puzzle solving, and in that sense it does an admirable job. Your glove can shift between four dimensions,: heavy, which makes objects ten times heavier, fluffy, makes objects ten times lighter, slow motion, and gravity shift, which will reverse the pull of gravity. The level design is some of the best around; never holding your hand and carefully easing you into new game mechanics without a single verbal command. This is great, considering how well made the puzzles are. They are never unfair and you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you can use all four (five including our own) dimensions to get through a room.
However, the main challenge is caused by floaty platforming rather than challenging puzzles. More often than not you will be asked to be very precise with both the timing and aim of your jump, and unfortunately the controls falter in this regard. Furthermore, while the puzzles are entertaining, they do not really pose much of a mental block for experienced gamers. If you had no trouble with Portal, you will breeze through Quantum Conundrum.
Thankfully, the game does give you a lot for its $14.99 price tag. The main story took me about seven hours and by the time it was done I had only completed about 70% of the game. There are two dozen collectibles scattered throughout the game, as well as insane challenge and shift goals that will delight the completionist inside all of us.
Visually, the game leaves a mark. The cartoonish style permeates every aspect of the mansion and seeing the portraits on the walls change whenever you shift dimensions is sure to provide some chuckles. The cynical sense of humor has been transplanted from Portal and it is sure nice to have it back.
Quantum Conundrum feels like Portal. There is no denying the influence of Aperture Science when shifting dimensions through Quadrangle Manor. Yet, despite all of the comparisons, Quantum Conundrum is a uniquely enjoyable game, that provides challenging puzzles, a quirky sense of style, and some good bang for your buck.