Release Date: July 11th, 2012 (Console)
Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360] XBLA, PSN, STEAM
Genre: First-Person Puzzle Game
Rated: E for Everyone
Tailing behind Valve’s smash hits Portal and Portal 2, Quantum Conundrum really stepped into a ball game with big expectations from gamers. For what Valve did so right for the two puzzle games of its kind, Airtight Games needed to flip the scenario around a bit and make it “fresh” as well as their own. The question is, how successful is Quantum Conundrum at doing this?
This answer doesn’t entirely lie in a nutshell but it should firstly be stated that Quantum Conundrum does good enough to stand on it’s own. With Portals being the main draw behind Portal and Portal 2, Quantum Conundrum delivers its own puzzle filled experience by introducing “dimension surfing” gameplay.
At the start of the game you jump into the shoes of the twelve-year-old nephew of the brilliant, but peculiar, Professor Fitz Quadwrangle. Just as you arrive you realize that something is not right. You can hear your uncle’s voice but he is nowhere to be found. Unbeknownst to the player, Professor Quadwrangle was getting his feet wet in some serious science when all of a sudden he was transported into a “pocket dimension,” quite literally.
In order to free your uncle, you will have to traverse his manor and take on a series of conundrums that involves alternating between four dimensions. While this might seem boggling to undertake by yourself, you won’t be unguided in this adventure. The Professor will easily guide you along the way through the intercom with a little help from his loyal side-kick, Ike. This within itself is the basic back story and setting for Quantum Conundrum. It’s nothing big or fancy, but it does just enough to explain the situation and create a world to drop you into.
In comparison, there is an incredible lack of story in this game when you match it with Portal and Portal 2. This however could have been the goal the entire time; skip the story and get straight to the gameplay. Whatever the situation might have been, don’t expect the foundations to a rich novel within this game. The main focus is primarily put upon the gameplay.
The art style and color pallets do well to set the tone for the game. The menu graphical presentation is clean and it does well to stay persistent as the game goes on. Switching between dimensions smooths over very well and each dimension has a solid texture/color change to go with it. Some shadows can look really ugly, but for the most part it’s a personal taste.
There are things that might grab the better part of your attention, however, as this game was built upon the Unreal engine and textures do fail to load at several times. One could argue that it breaks immersion, but we will leave that up to you. Environments do seem to repeat themselves quite a bit and the only real change might be the color of the wall or floor. This could speak to some laziness or extreme re-usefulness to the world layout segments. Once again, we will leave you to decide on that one.
What is all the hype about Quantum Conundrum’s gameplay? First of all, you get control over four different dimensions. The dimensions you can manipulate include the Fluffy dimension;where things are lighter, Heavy dimension; where things are heavier, Slow dimension; where time slows down, and the Reverse Gravity dimension that reverses the gravitational pull.
Most of the puzzles take great use of each element and the game takes its time to teach you how to use each dimension effectively. Arguably, most of the puzzles are incredibly easy, but there are a few that will take you a bit of time to complete anyway. The real challenge comes in completing the puzzles within a shifting limit and time goal. After completing a level, you always have the option to go back and replay it for the achievement points and bragging rights.
In summary, this game is a good attempt at a puzzle game. While it’s okay in its own right, Portal it is clearly not. The overladen voice work cannot compete with the likes of Glados and the humor seems to be pretty cheesy and lame for the majority. The game has a rushed ending that seems to have been mocked up in 5 minutes and leaves you feeling no sense of actually completing anything. Long story short, the gameplay was thoughtfully planned while everything else was half-baked in the process. There was a lot of unused potential in this title. Does that mean this game is horrid? No, but if there is a future sequel to be heading into the works, we can only hope that they will step back and focus on the bigger picture next time around.
Overall Rating: 3.75/5