Quantum Conundrum was developed by Airtight Games and published by Square Enix. Designed by Valve veteran Kim Swift, it certainly has an air of familiarity about it. You play as a strangely un-named young protagonist who must rescue his uncle, Professor Fitz Quadrangle (voiced by John De Lancie, whom you may recognize from Star Trek TNG or Breaking Bad). The dimension-shifting mechanics, smart humor, and pedigree behind this title hold a good deal of promise for both older and younger gamers.
Before we get started, we need to address the elephant in the room: Quantum Conundrum draws a lot from Portal. It was made by one of the co-creators of Portal, it’s a first person puzzler like Portal, and it has a sharp-tongued narrator like Portal. But Quantum Conundrum is no Portal. If you put those expectations aside, you’ll find this game has its own charms and explores some new, interesting ideas.
Quantum Conundrum allows you to shift between four dimensions, each of which alters the properties of the objects around you. The fluffy dimension lightens everything in your environment, allowing you to carry and move heavy objects. On the other hand, the heavy dimension turns even a cardboard box into a wrecking ball. The slow dimension, as you might guess, slows everything down and allows you time to think or manipulate objects. Finally, the reverse gravity dimension causes objects to fall upwards, allowing you to ride them over great distances or guide them around traps.
What we really find appealing about Quantum Conundrum is the way it combines tried and true puzzle elements to make a new experience. The game isn’t about moving crates and throwing switches. It really is about experimenting with tools until you find a solution.
Quantum Conundrum puts up just enough of a fight to keep you on your toes. There was no point where we were left utterly frustrated, partly due to the hints offered by the narrator. Hints that, to our chagrin, were repeated every time we died. Every. Time. Even with the hints, we were still satisfied by the challenge.
The issues we had with Quantum Conundrum stem from the slightly awkward dimension swapping mechanics. We played on the PC, which uses the Q, E, 1 and 3 buttons to toggle the four dimensions. It isn’t always an issue, but when you need to pull off several shifts in quick succession things can get a bit hairy. The upcoming console versions map these functions to the shoulder buttons, so it should be simpler if you plan to play it on the Xbox 360 or PS3.
Things can also get awkward when a puzzle requires you to jump onto a moving platform. It’s not always easy to gauge a jump, especially when the object you’re jumping to is being affected by your powers.
There’s also the issue of the ending: we don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice to say that just as soon as things pick up, the game ends – abruptly, and with no real sense of conclusion. We’re not sure if the upcoming DLC is going to expand upon the story, but frankly we felt cheated. The single player campaign was long enough and explored all the game’s mechanics, but the ending left us with a bad taste in our mouths.
Quantum Conundrum is worth your time if you enjoy puzzle games. The weak narrative is offset by John De Lancie’s strong delivery, and the occasional frustration when shifting between dimensions doesn’t detract from the fun of experimenting with and solving the game’s brain teasers. The ending is definitely a disappointment, but Quantum Conundrum is a game we would recommend checking out.
- Name: Quantum Conundrum
- Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
- Price: $15.00
- Developed by: Airtight Games
- Published by: Square Enix
- Release date: June 21, 2012
- Elder-Geek Score: 4 out of 5 / Worth Buying