Review: Quantum Conundrum

Quantum Conundrum is (don’t say it, Billy) a conundrum. Oh well, I suppose that the use of one pun is alright seeing as that it is one of the main sources of “humor” in the game. What is the conundrum I am speaking of? Easy, the game has a solid concept behind it, but on the other hand has poor execution, and further, even poorer presentation.

Upon first starting the game, you will be greeted by the voice of your crazy professor/scientist uncle who seems to have a grudge against you and your deadbeat mother for just showing up unannounced and toying with his creations. The setup is all well and good, but the whole thing is a bit Saturday morning, and not the good “Looney Toons” Saturday morning either. The game tries very hard to be the same kind of game as its spiritual predecessor (Portal), without having the same tone. But where Portal succeeds at humor unlike any game before it, this one falls flat on its face; I can’t say that I laughed once the entire time. Nearly every attempt the game made to make me laugh resulted in a unsavory grimace.

An example of the Fluffy Dimension. Brought to you by Cottonelle.

The single plot progression in the story comes in the final minute of a 6 hour game. This means that for the first 5:59 minutes of the game the professor is stuck in a limbo dimension reiterating over and over in varying ways that he is: lost, doesn’t remember how he got there and thinks you are incompetent. Now you might be thinking that the first portal unfolded similarly, but at least you were laughing and wanted to keep playing just to hear what GLaDOS was going to say next. In Quantum Conundrum, the lack of progression, potable humor and dull, repetitive environments make the game wear on your soul after just the first hour or two.

This is not to say that the game didn’t have its pluses, the game mechanics were really fun. Switching between the four dimensions (heavy, fluffy, slow and reverse gravity) can result in some fascinating puzzles. Though it lacks that visceral flying through the air of portal, it makes up for it later in the game with some genuinely cool puzzles utilizing all four dimensions. At times, when the game is introducing a new dimension it will take control of it automatically using drinking bird that switches dimensions periodically. This can be a little frustrating, just waiting for control, and then, if you miss your opportunity, you have to wait yet again. And there were also some small glitches where boxes could not get past invisible walls, but nothing too detrimental. Control wise it felt about as precise as Portal. Also similar to the first Portal, the game can require agility in the execution (something they toned down in Portal 2) of puzzles. The only mentionable gripe I had with the controls was that the ability to jump rapidly from object to object was marred by a slow response; essentially meaning that you will jump on something, wait a split second, then jump again. As opposed to jumping again the moment you hit the new platform.

The Reverse Gravity Dimension. Brought to you by the photo gel from The Matrix.

As I mentioned, the game is around six hours, maybe a couple more if you want to find the collectibles (which I did not) and is only of moderate difficulty (there was not a puzzle that stumped me for more than a few minutes). Depending on your sense of humor, and how cheap of a sale Quantum Conundrum might be on, you might find value in the game. It really could have done with a more imaginative setting, funnier writing, more imaganative music a little more money. But in the end I would just give this game a passable 3 out of 5.

Pros:

  • Creative Puzzles
  • Original Gameplay mechanics

Cons

  • Poor overall presentation
  • Lacks a real story

3 out of 5.

Review based on PC product, no discernible differences found in other platform builds.

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Author: William Milby View all posts by
I've been a game fanatic since childhood and all my adult life. And though I love my PS3 and have commonly wished to own a 360 (accepting donations) for the likes of Mass Effect and other such franchises, I'm still that little 8 year old Big N fanboy at heart. I'm also a co-host on the vagary hosted podcast The n00bketeers and other common interests include golf, motorcycles and lots of Gran Turismo!