Let’s get the first thing gamers are complaining about out of the way: the only thing that relates Quantum Conundrm to Portal is Kim Swift. It’s a first-person puzzler that exists on its own, with its own set of rules and game design ideas. In fact, I found it to be even better than Portal in some aspects.
Simply enough, and as has been empirically justified with earlier puzzlers of this sort, the story is about a 12-year-old boy who is dropped off at his uncle’s mansion laboratory. That uncle happens to be an eccentric scientist and inventor named Professor Fitz Quadwrangle who mistakenly causes an explosion due to a failed experiment, throwing his existence off-balance, losing himself in-between dimensions. It therefore becomes your mission to discover what happened to him and potentially help him out.
As you go through the mansion, your uncle is able to talk to you. At times he commends you, but mostly he belittles your lack of scientific understanding, spewing jargon and witty quips at you that I imagine the average 12 year old will not get, but you as a gamer will. Along the way, you will also encounter your uncle’s pet/assistant Ike, a fluffy little creature, who will offer you help or point out things of interest to you.
Much attention has been placed on the writing and half-way through the game when the puzzles start getting tricky, you will rejoice when your uncle speaks to you as that essentially means that you’re on the right track.
The game is very smart in its puzzle offerings and always makes sure that no one idea outstays its welcome. The moment you start getting used to a skill, another is introduced to you, requiring you to solve further puzzles by applying all what you have learnt earlier. Unfortunately, though you may have obtained all skills, every time you clear a chamber, thereby completing the puzzle, your skills are reset as you find your way to the next chamber, and only required skills will be available to you in accordance with the puzzle at hand. This, of course, is not a hindrance per se, but it makes you feel more of a puppet, and less of a master.
If there was one issue with the genre that has of yet not been attended to, it’s first person platforming. No matter how smooth a first-person game tries to be, platforming is still its bane. Developers need to just give up on that notion all together, or, if they would like to include platforming in an otherwise 3D game, have a 2D option available for people to choose from. It’s infuriating to have worked so hard to get a puzzle right, only to have it foil due to platforming issues.
Thankfully, the checkpoints are generous and you will never find yourself backtracking much. When you do, make sure you keep a lookout for paintings in your surrounding. Not only do they give you insight in to your uncle’s background via his commentary, but their images change with respect to the skill, or dimensional rift, you are using.
Some control issues aside, Quantum Conundrum is a great game for what it offers and even though the locations could have benefitted from some more variety, it’s priced at a mere $15, making it a must play for all gamers, specially fans of the genre.
Quantum Conundrum is available to download for PC via Steam now. For more information on the game, including trailers and screenshots, head over to our dedicated Quantum Conundrum hub-page here.
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This article was first posted on June 24, 2012