Quantum Conundrum Xbox 360 Review
Publisher – Square Enix – Developer – Airtight Games – Genre – Puzzle – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 3+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3
The Portal series is an inventive first person puzzle game with humorous dialogue, and, well, Quantum Conundrum is also an inventive first person puzzle game with humorous dialogue. Quantum Conundrum is actually the brainchild of Portal co-creator Kim Swift, and, while it has its similarities with that very game, it’s also something very different.
The basic story of Quantum Conundrum goes like this: You take control of the 12-year-old nephew of Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, whom is in the midst of conducting an experiment, and, as things normally go with such experiments, it goes entirely wrong. Quadwrangle finds himself trapped in a pocket dimension, and it’s your job to help him to escape. The professor is still able to communicate with you and uses some rather humorous phrases, although the dialogue is in no way as successful as Portal’s witty lines, and, in terms of my own sense of humour, I found some of the jokes a little too flat. Still, for what it is, the dialogue is likeable enough.
Quadwrangle’s experiment has resulted in the opening of multiple dimensions within his manor. You’ll eventually get hold of the Interdimensional Shift Device glove that can manipulate these different dimensions, and your task is to make your way through three coloured wings to restart the generators in each one of them – solving some very clever puzzles as you go.
Quantum Conundrum does a good job into easing you into as to what works and what doesn’t work in the different dimensions. Over the course of the game you will experience four very different dimensions: Fluffy, Heavy, Slow and Reverse Gravity. The Fluffy dimension makes objects ten times lighter, making it possible to pick up objects that are otherwise too heavy. The Heavy dimension is the opposite, and objects are made ten times heavier, which is handy when you are required to use heavy objects on the top of pressure sensitive switches and so on. The Slow dimension has everything being slowed down, although you are still able to move at your normal pace. Finally, The Reverse Gravity dimension does exactly what it suggests, but, like all the other dimensions, you remain unaffected by its properties.
There are some really smart puzzles in Quantum Conundrum, and making use of the different dimensions, sometimes in combination with one another, and solving the puzzles is something truly satisfying. The solutions to puzzles are normally on the logical side, although that’s not to say that they don’t require some thought, as some of the lengthier puzzles will prove to be trial and error for many players.
Good examples include picking up an object in the fluffy dimension, lobbing it and then slowing down time and leaping on top of it, riding it to your destination, and quite often leaping between different objects and furniture. Some puzzles require perfect precision to get them right, and, because of this, knowing the solution doesn’t necessarily mean instant success.
You can only access each dimension when IDS batteries are plugged into the IDS Receptacles. There are portions of the game in which finding batteries is a puzzle in itself. The batteries for each of the dimensions are colour coordinated, and you’ll be able to switch dimensions based on which is plugged in.
Where Quantum Conundrum falters is in its rather samey environments. The cartoonish visuals and manor environment are likeable enough, although corridors and rooms can feel a little recycled, and you’ll be thinking to yourself at times that you’ve seen certain parts before, despite them supposedly being different sections of the manor. The physics can also be occasionally a little volatile, leading to moments of frustration.
The above isn’t enough to ruin what just so happens to be a very clever puzzle game. The visuals have a certain character to them, the dialogue, while not up to Portal standards, can be rather entertaining, and the largely logical puzzles are very intelligently designed and a lot of fun to solve. At five hours long, Quantum Conundrum is a game that is definitely worth the asking price, particularly if you have a liking for such clever brainteasers.