Quantum Conundrum Review

Posted: July 31, 2012 by E-mann in REVIEWS
Tags: ,

From the mind of Kim Swift; former lead designer on Valve’s Portal, comes Quantum Conundrum. Does the new franchise hold a candle to Swift’s previous work? Find out after the jump.

In Quantum Conundrum you play the twelve-year-old nephew of the brilliant Professor Fitz Quadwrangle (played by John de Lancie) who is sent to stay with with his uncle. When our protagonist arrives, an experiment the Professor is working on malfunctions, causing him to become trapped in a pocket dimension. Your is goal is to traverse Quadwrangle’s huge mansion of experiments and puzzles and figure out what went wrong.

Puzzles are the name of the game in Quantum Conundrum but there is a twist, you need to shift dimensions in order to solve them. Each dimension has its own physics and environment. There are 4 different dimensions which correspond with buttons on your controller or keyboard. In the fluffy dimension, objects are lighter than normal, allowing you to lift heavy objects like safes and couches. In the heavy dimension, objects are heavier than normal. You can’t lift objects up, but their density allows you to use them as cover and avoid being killed by lasers. In the slow dimension, all objects except you move slower. In the reverse gravity dimension, gravity is reversed and affects all objects except for you.

There is a limitation to dimensional shifts though. You need to activate them by putting canisters of fuel into a node. Sometimes the canisters are hidden and some times the node is hard to get to. There are even nodes without enough ports to stick in canisters, so you have to swap them out. Controls take a little getting used to. You may find yourself not remembering what buttons shift you to what dimension from time to time.

Quantum Conundrum has a bit of a balance issue. You can find a room that is really difficult to solve and then the next room you breeze through. This game needed some more balancing. The game has quite a few platforming sections which are hard because of the first person view. Despite how I feel about these small issues, I had a great time playing this game and solving puzzles. The puzzles for me were the chief reason I continued playing.

In general I really like the art direction of this game. It has a really great, bright, painterly look but unfortunately it suffers from reused assets. You will see the same paintings, books, and other objects over and over again. Granted there is a story element that explains this but it is still a little disappointing when you walk down a hallway after completing a puzzle room and it’s the same hallway you walked through before you started the level.

This brings me to what I feel is the biggest failing point of this game, the script. It is neither funny, compelling or witty. It’s 6 hours of John de Lancie berating and belittling you even though you are trying to help him out. Yes, I know this formula worked in Portal but it doesn’t here. Professor Fitz Quadwrangle is just a mean old guy and should probably be left to his fate. I mean, other than the joy of solving puzzles there is no reason to save him. I kept waiting for the story to really kick in but it never really pays off at the end. I felt really disappointed because the world of Quantum Conundrum seemed so fun. If you thought the Mass Effect 3 ending was horrible, you’ll probably want to flip another table after you finish this one.

Even if you didn’t know that Quantum Conundrum was designed by one of the creators of Portal, the game screams Portal from every orifice and comes up short which is a shame because with a little more time this game could have relay shined. Maybe not brighter than Portal but at least equally.

Liked:

  • Smooth and precise controls
  • Graphics and art design
  • Desmond & IKE
  • Creative puzzles

Disliked:

  • Story
  • Ending
  • Lack luster and unfunny script
  • Repetitive corridors
  • Unbalanced puzzle sections

Quantum Conundrum was developed by Airtight Games and published by Square Enix. It was released on the PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and is available now for $14.99. The copy played for this review was downloaded from the Playstation network.

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Comments
  1. Great review. I’ve been on the fence about this game. I LOOOOOVVVVVEEEDDD Portal, so this should have been a faith buy, but I never got around to it when it released giving me time to hear that it wasn’t as genius as Portal was. I’ll probably still grab it eventually, but I’ll wait for a Steam sale or something. Sucks the story wasn’t as great as Portal’s.

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