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Quantum Conundrum (XBox 360) Review

/ Jul 10th, 2012 No Comments

Quantum Conundrum (XBox 360)

Quantum Conundrum (XBox 360)

Quantum Conundrum (XBox 360)

With the breakout success of Portal, and subsequently Portal 2, it was only a matter of time before that formula was re-imagined by another studio. While I’m not big on starting reviews off with a direct comparison, Quantum Conundrum‘s marketing effort and gameplay makes it hard not to. At first glance, some may write it off as a Portal clone, but that would be a mistake. The lead developer behind Quantum Conundrum, Kim Swift, served as co-creator, lead developer, and level designer of Portal. That pedigree alone was enough to get me excited about the prospects of Quantum Conundrum carrying the First-Person Puzzle-Platforming torch, or at the very least filling in the void left after Portal 2.

Game Play

As stated above, Quantum Conundrum is a “first-person puzzle-platform” game. For the uninitiated, that means it’s basically a first-person shooter, except instead of shooting things you’re solving various puzzles that may also involve timed or precision jumping. In case you were wondering, there are no portals involved. Instead, we are given the ability to enter into different physics manipulating dimensions to solve the puzzles. The first dimension we use is the Fluffy dimension, where objects are ten times lighter than normal. This allows the picking up and throwing of objects that are normally too heavy to lift. The second dimension is the Heavy dimension, where lighter objects can weigh down switches or break windows, and heavier objects can withstand lasers. Next we have the Slow dimension that brings everything into slow-mo. Lastly, there’s the self-explanatory Reverse Gravity dimension. The player is not affected by any of the physics shifts in the game, only the objects and machinery are. We don’t initially start off in control of the dimensional shifts, but we quickly acquire the Interdimensional Shift Device glove that allows us to switch dimensions at will based on which battery, or batteries, are in the nearest power receptacle.

As with any good puzzle game, QC gets gradually more difficult, and often requires creative thinking and quick reflexes to advance. Manipulating a dodecahedron (dodecahedron, dodecahedron) to weigh down a platform in the heavy dimension, then jumping on it, then launching it and yourself via the fluffy dimension, then slowing down time, jumping off, then moving to the other side of the door, initiating the heavy dimension to allow the dodecahedron safe passage through the lasers, then immediately going to the fluffy dimension in order to catch said dodecahedron requires some finesse. Sorry if I lost you there. That puzzle was particularly memorable because I probably tried it 20 times before putting down the controller and coming back to it a few hours later. These exercises in trial-and-error make the game a real challenge, and also somewhat frustrating. Some of the precise platforming aspects of QC can be disheartening, but harkens it back to a time when games didn’t offer multiple difficulty settings and required patience. Not to mention, the greater the challenge the greater the self-gratification (nailed it on my first try upon return).

Story

The protagonist of the game is the twelve-year-old nephew of the wacky genius Professor Fitz Quadwrangle. You are sent to stay at Quadwrangle Manor where the unprepared Professor Q is working on a new experiment. Something goes awry and Quadwrangle is sent into a mysterious pocket dimension where lost cell phones and discarded chewing gum end up. Still able to observe and speak to his nephew, the Professor serves as a guide through various wings of the manor, all while trying to remember exactly what it was that led to the mishap.

Throughout the game we’re treated to the humorous banter of Professor Quadwrangle (expertly voiced by John De Lancie), who offers observational quips and regales us with stories of his travels through time. If an omnipotent voice filling our ears with humorous and witty banter sounds familiar, it should. Quadwrangle essentially fills the same role that GLaDOS does in Portal. While GLaDOS is robotic and sinister in tone, Professor Q is lively and jovial

Graphics & Sound

Quantum Conundrum

Quantum Conundrum

From its story to its visuals and sounds, Quantum Conundrum is a family friendly affair meant to appeal to both the young and young at heart. The look and feel of QC is very Disney/Pixar, as are its story and dialogue. The manor is brought to life through its asymmetrical features and bright color palette. The manor’s also full of quirky surprises (keep an eye out for the various portraits of Quadwrangle and his furry pal, IKE). The phenomenal sound design, subtle soundtrack and quality voice acting add to the game’s fun and playful atmosphere.

Replay Value

QC offers a variety of fun and exciting new mechanics to master, and the game keeps tabs of your every move. You can always go back to the Great Hall and use the blueprint map to view your stats and revisit the puzzles you had trouble with. It also keeps track of the hidden collectables you’ve missed, offering some incentive to go back and further explore. Though only a single-player game with a solid campaign (7 hours, give or take), QC offers several challenges and good variety of gameplay to keep you coming back for more.

Overall

Quantum Conundrum takes the first-person puzzle-platformer into a new and exciting direction with its clever mechanics and larger focus on platforming. As a puzzle game, it offers some unique challenges and brain-busting good times. While some of the platforming aspects can get tedious, a little patience and determination will get you through it. At $15, it’s a no-brainer for fans of Portal/Portal 2. For those who are still on the fence, there’s no reason not to download the demo and at least give it a try.

Overall Ratings – Quantum Conundrum (XBox 360)

Gameplay:

8/10

Replay Value:

8/10

Graphics:

9/10

Story:

8/10

OVERALL SCORE:

83%

Joe Van Fossen

Joe Van Fossen

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Joe Van Fossen is an avid gamer, film nerd, and unabashed gadget geek. When he's not playing games, watching movies or gadgeteering, he's writing about it (or he's off playing music in some seedy bar somewhere in L.A. or Orange County).
Joe Van Fossen

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