Quantum Conundrum feels familiar. That was the first thing that I thought of when I virtually popped it into my console. Made by one of the creators of Portal, Kim Swift, this first-person puzzle games feels like a sequel of a different name. This is not a bad thing; I loved Portal when it first came out and I was excited when I first heard about Quantum Conundrum. Now that I have made my way through the six hour journey that is this game, I can say that it brings back the memories of all of the things that I loved about its predecessor, but also brings some of the same faults.
Quantum Conundrum tells the story of a young boy who goes and visits his uncle, a profound inventor, in his mansion. Upon arrival, you uncle gets sent to another dimension and loses his memory. As the only other person in the mansion, it is up to you to take the ISD (Interdimensional Shift Device) to go to this forgotten dimension and help him remember what happened. The story is well done, with the only downside being that the ending falls flat on its face. It is one of the more lackluster endings that I have seen in a game in a long time.
The style of the game is light-hearted and fun, even including your uncle’s condescending remarks. The art style reflects this light-hearted nature as well, with colorful and cartoon-like environments. The only downside is that aside from the rooms, every connecting hallway looks the same, and it gets very boring on your way to new puzzles. Graphically, it looks really good and shows me that you do not need a game to be dark and grey to look graphically pleasing. The music also compliments the game, and it has an amazing end credits song that you cannot miss.
The gameplay here is the meat of the game, in which you need to manage the weight, speed, and velocity of the objects around you, as well as of yourself, with your goal being to get to the next room to solve the next array of puzzles. The trick here is that with the ISD, you are able to shift the things around you into different dimensions, and there are four in total. An example of something you would need to switch dimensions for is that if a platform is going too fast to jump on, you can switch to the “Slow Time” dimension to catch it before it gets away. There are numerous examples of things that they have you do with these dimensions, and as the game progresses there are more of them that you have to use in conjunction with each other. It gets very complicated.
That is where I find the trouble with the game comes in, as these puzzles can get very frustrating and disorienting. You need a lot of patience for a game like this, and honestly there were times when I could only play for a little bit before I had to walk away, just because it can get that nerve-racking. To easy your anger, though, if you die on a puzzle they tack on a little bit of humor by placing a “Things you will never get to experience” quip on the screen before you retry the level. Also, I have to say to alleviate the majority of the frustration, the checkpoint system is one of the best I have seen in a while. Where you hope they place you after you die is usually where you end up to continue your adventure.
Control-wise, the game also feels pretty good. I feel rather precise with my how I coordinate my moves, though the character can slide a bit when he gains momentum. You do need precision in some cases, but the controls compensate for a lot of it, so it doesn’t add to the frustration. I did have some problems where I would press a button to jump to a platform and wouldn’t, but this honestly did not come up enough to warrant any added aggravation.
Despite the aforementioned frustration, when you do figure out a puzzle or make it through a complicated room on the first try, the rewarding feeling you get is spectacular. It gave me moments where I was yelling at the screen because I couldn’t figure something out, but still having a good time while doing it.The motivation that drives you to play and solve the puzzle is awesome, and it is for such moments that I love games like these.
Overall, I cannot recommend this game enough. The style, colorful world, and fun yet frustrating puzzles make up a wonderful summer game experience. The main game is a little bit on the short side, but there are collectables to find and target times to hit for the puzzle rooms, so there is plenty to do once you finish the core game. It has its problems, and again I hate always comparing games to similar ones, but if you had a good time with Portal, there is no reason why you shouldn’t drop the fifteen dollars and experience the fun that is Quantum Conundrum.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.