Fans of Portal, thirsty for a new first person puzzler this year need not fear, Quantum Conundrum by Airtight Games and Square Enix is here to fill that void (or should I say, Portal) in your heart. You play as a quiet 12 year old boy visiting your Uncle Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, you are tasked to save your Uncle from his latest experiment gone bad using his last invention, the Interdimensional Shift Device. This glove when, powered properly, gives the player the ability to bend reality and change the properties of the world around you. With this new technology, you must then navigate your way through your Uncle’s mansion laboratory and overcome its challenges by shifting through each of the five dimensions.
Each dimension is switched on and off on fly by one of the four shoulder buttons that then change the properties of the world around you. Like I said, there are five total including the normal dimension. The other dimensions in the game include fluffy, which makes everything 10 times lighter allowing the player to pick up and throw anything in the world or deactivate a pressed switch; heavy makes everything weigh 10 times more to activate switches with things usually to light to activate it and makes it invulnerable to damage; slow as in slow down time; and reverse that makes everything go up (as in reverse gravity.) Since you hold and control the I.S.D. (Interdimensional Shift Device,) it’s effect do not affect you. So you may for example slow down time, but move at a normal pace to walk through a wind blade, or reverse gravity and keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. All the puzzles revolve shifting around these dimensions, platforming, breaking stuff, pressure plates and button pressing (which is often achieved with the help of a drinking bird.) If this at all sounds familiar, that’s because you probably fit in that aforementioned party of Portal Fans.
Saying Quantum Conundrum is just like Portal is kinda like comparing Tetris to Bejeweled, it just does Quantum Conundrum a grave injustice. I want to try and avoid spoiling any puzzle in this preview, but they revolve around object manipulation and timing more than anything else. Approaching each puzzle begins by knowing what dimensions are available to you, how to activate more dimensions, and what you can manipulate in the room. It makes Quantum feel more MacGyveresque (I just made that word up) when compared to the navigational challenges Portal poses.
The art and presentation are one of my favorite things about this game. The game carries that Pixar/Team Fortress art style and charm, but the real win is how the worlds change when you switch dimensions. The fluffy dimension, for example, make everything look like it’s made from pillows and the paintings throughout the room change the person in them into wearing bunny suit. By comparison, the heavy dimension changes everything to look like its made from plate metal and the paintings in the world change into a heavy metal theme (as in the genre of music). Finally Professor Fitz Quadwrangle’s dialog as you progress through the puzzles is just as charming, though far less mean spirited, as GlaDOS.
Quantum Conundrum is just a cute, fun loving game with an identity all of its own and has the potential to be this year’s sleeper hit. If you loved Portal, you should keep your eyes peeled for this clever game, releasing this summer.
Release Date: Summer 2012