Quantum Conundrum review (XBLA)
Quantum Conundrum was developed by Airtight Games and published by Square Enix. It’s was released on July 11, 2012 for 1200 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
There are some people who don’t like visiting their relatives since it wastes your weekend of fun in the sun. Now imagine if that person you’re visiting was your uncle. Uncles are fun right? They sometimes give you candy or money, but this time, he’s gone missing.
In Quantum Conundrum, you play the nephew of Professor Fitz Quadwrangle who’s just learned his uncle is in another dimension. It’s up to you to try and locate him throughout the many rooms in his mansion. Entrusted in you is a glove called the IDS that can switch dimensions. This is the latest from Portal creator Kim Swift and if Portal is a dark comedy, this is a Saturday Morning Cartoon that can appeal to any age demographic.
Here’s what we liked:
Unique inter-dimensional gameplay – When you start the game, you only have one dimension to play with at first, the Fluffy dimension. It makes everything light and throwable and also adorable which helps when you need to carry large objects or throw them at panes of glass. As the game progresses you’ll also have access to the heavy dimension, which can make a normal cardboard box metallic in order to block lasers that would otherwise disintegrate. Slow time will help you make precise jumps or cause objects to fall in place while you tread to another area and reverse gravity helps you cross a ton of chasms with flying safes or tables. Later on, you’ll have to utilize all the dimensions in order to solve some of the tougher puzzles.
Beam me up, John De Lancie – Professor Quadwrangle is played by John De Lancie who’s been seen in everything from Star Trek to Breaking Bad and even My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. He offers quite a unique narration, perhaps not GLADoS level but much more whimsical than her. He’ll comment on the youth of today, how we still don’t have flying cars, and why Ike, his furry assistant, was very popular during their time travel escapades. He’ll also offer hints to the player in case you get stuck.
Attention to detail – Most players might not even do this but almost everything in the game (that you can lift) has a layer of interactivity to it. You can grab books on the shelf and you’ll see funny titles like “Henry to the power of 8” or “Lord of the Time Flies”. Portraits will even change depending on your dimension to punky metallic to checking their watch in slow time. You’ll also find collectibles with more narration and every time you die, you’re told what you won’t do when you grow up like be dateless to Prom or build a mansion for your nephew to get lost in…
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Precise jumping – While Portal had its fair share of jumping, its platforming was more about momentum and flinging yourself. With QC, it’s more in line with a 2D platformer in a first-person perspective and some of the tougher puzzles require lighting-fast reflexes in platforming which doesn’t always work. You’ll think you’re going to make a jump only to realize that you’re off by just a hair, and that can become extremely frustrating in the later puzzles.
Lackluster ending – Not to make more Portal references but that ending was pretty grandiose while QC kind of just…ends. You get a 15-30 second cut-scene and then credits. To be fair, the song at the end of the game is fantastic but it’s kind of diappointing that while narrative is prominent in the game, the over-arching story doesn’t really offer much at the endgame which is slightly disappointing.
Technical issues – These don’t plague the game too much but seeing texture pop-in and slow load times aren’t fun to deal with. The Steam version of the game probably doesn’t have as many of these due to being on the PC but you’ll see some of the portraits looking really fuzzy and taking a couple seconds to load. You’ll hit the switch for a door and have to wait up to a minute or more for it to open as it loads the next area. It might be better on newer machines (the review took place on a 20 GB Xbox 360) but not so much on older machines.
There’s a lot to be fun with Quantum Conundrum, it has a really great gameplay hook, lovely narration and music, and great detail about the whimsical world of Professor Quadwrangle’s mansion. It’s a bit more jump heavy than other first-person puzzlers and the endgame isn’t as satisfying as we’d like but it’ll make you smile throughout. Pour some cereal in a bowl of milk and get ready to get fluffy…or heavy.
Score: Buy It