Quantum Conundrum is Airtight Games’s newest title and yes, while it does have Kim Swift on the design team, that does NOT mean you can just say “Oh Portal was good” and leave your review at that. I’m looking at you Machinima/Giant Bomb/MetaCritic blurbs/(Stupid Review Website I hate).
Anywho, Quantum Conundrum is basically a quirky puzzle game that focuses on using different dimensions in order to solve puzzles. The game claims that “there is a dimension for that”, where “that” is the solution to some puzzle (for example, a high up ledge that you can’t reach because you are the height of a four year old boy). It’s an obvious play on the iPhone’s “There’s an app for that” marketing shenanzo that quite honestly,-blah blah blah blah blah fuck it.
As cool as the marketing blurb makes that sound, it really means that you get four different dimensions and the game doesn’t really expand much from there on out, which is a shame because it would have been interesting to really have a dimension for almost anything.
That rant aside, QC is as Portal as you can get without adding Valve to the mix. But don’t most puzzle games (let’s all stop and stare at ‘Splosion Man for the XBLA) try to do that now? I mean, let’s look at the similarities between the two games:
- There’s a song at the end of the game
- There’s an unseen character (for 90% of the game) who watches your progress while providing humorous commentary
- You are mostly alone
- The floor is lava
- Puzzle Lazers
- Momentum puzzles
- Momentum puzzles…WITH LAZERS! :O
- There are several objects that the player is intended to build an attachment to (which actually seems to work unlike the Weighted Companion Cube in Portal)
- Just being in the facility is some sort of hazard to the character’s health
- The story kinda ends on a semi-cliffhanger (you know the end of Portal where you are laying there on the concrete parking lot at the end of the game? QC’s ending is a lot like that. It doesn’t explain if you escaped the house or not, it just ends)
- Story plot is built up in between levels (Portal had the elevators, QC has the hallways).
- You explore outside the main “testing environment” at some point
- The game is kinda short. Portal was supposed to be a game that would take eight hours long. Portal ended up being about 4-6 max, really. QC sits right at eight.
- There are challenge modes that (for lack of a better word) challenge you to complete puzzles in fewest number of (portals|shifts) as well as how fast you can complete the level
Well…I guess that is kind of a lot, but you can’t really blame them too much, because Portal was a really successful game. However, that is a good thing to a degree, despite a few physics bugs that plague the game, Quantum Conundrum is definitely worth a try. It’s funny, well written, clever, witty and has really good voice acting.
The main narrator/scientist uncle is voiced by John De Lancie, who I believe was a fantastic choice for the game. His passive aggressive tone just really adds to the overall quirkiness of the game. It’s honestly a fun game, sure you may die a lot and there will be a lot of rage, but you’ll have a lot of fun (except when you throw your keyboard at the wall for the physics deciding to derp right at the last second) while doing it. I would totally recommend a buy of this game…
I have two really big issues with this game.
First: Even towards the end of the game, it doesn’t feel like I’ve mastered the controls at all. Seriously, I would expect that I never accidentally switch into a dimension that I didn’t mean to, but even towards the final few levels, I was STILL making that mistake. It was extremely frustrating, considering that the last puzzles require almost perfect timing and dimension switching. It honestly feels like the game might have been better controlled on a controller than it would have on a keyboard.
Second: The story pulls a Hard Reset and just ends. No real wrap up, it just ends. That’s it, there’s nothing else. Judging from the fact the game already has achievements for future DLC, I’m assuming that near the end of development the developers decided to stop working on the story and focus on working on DLC stuff. It’s really lame.
Overall, Quantum Conundrum is a very hard game to recommend, it’s enjoyable and whimsical, however, there are a lot of issues that get in the way of the overall immersion. You can get trapped in puzzles, the physics likes to derp out every now and then (Oh, this platform magically lost its collision again, fantastic), and quite a few portions that just induce rage. But on the other hand, it’s a humorous puzzler that can be quite challenging. Either way, I say try it, but I’d lean towards buying it if it is on sale.
Verdict: TRY, BUY ON SALE