Thursday, 21 June 2012 09:57
Games - Games
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Quantum Conundrum has had major hype behind its development and it's no surprise when you take a look at its elite roots. Designed by Kim Swift, who you might know as the lead designer on Portal (i.e. the game that changed lives), this first person puzzler is going to feel like a brand new adventure with Chell, if she was twelve years old and a boy. The game was developed by Airtight Games and published by Square Enix, but the experience you have will be very Valve-like.
You play as a young boy who has been dropped off at his uncle's mansion, home to the Quadwrangles for some time now. Normally, the boy is used to a grand entrance from his inventor relative, but this time he is met with abandonment. His uncle comes on over the intercom, explaining that prior to the boy's arrival, an explosion occured, and he has been thrown into a strange new dimension full of keys, cell phones and lint. It's obviously up to the young boy to right this interdimensional catastrophe.
Directed toward an item that resembles a more functional Power Glove (which is really anything aside from an actual Power Glove), you are outfitted with an Interdimensional Shift Device (ISD). This glove allows you to manipulate objects in four specific ways without affecting your own body. You can slow time, reverse gravity, and make objects lighter or heavier, by collecting specific batteries that power each shift. You are a god among children and it can only be assumed that world domination is shortly in your future after you help out your family, because that's just what people do.
The uncle comes off as a more kid friendly cross between GLaDOS and Cave Johnson, offering support when you do something right, and mild teasing when you seem to be having trouble. He also goes on and on about science, but manages to avoid any talk of lemons. The humor is very safe in this, which ends up making this title less endearing than Portal or Portal 2, but still worth experiencing. There's a freakish little creature, named Ike, who has fallen into your uncle's favor and spends his time running about the game, offering little bits of slapstick humor. Usually Ike is somewhere in each level, holding onto a battery, waiting for you to take it from his creepy furry hands, so he can make an awkward face seen only in nightmares and disappear.
One of my favorite parts of Quantum Conundrum is the creativity that went into the many paintings on the wall in the hallways which acted as loading areas. Hesitating on any painting would launch the uncle into an explanation about what you were viewing. By having these neutral recurring areas that the player can meander through and learn more about the Quadwrangle family, Quantum Conundrum cuts out loading times and has a much more smooth flow. So smooth that it's a tough game to walk away from. When you beat one area, you are just tossed back into the thick of things. I've always felt that a developer has succeeded when a game is hard to quit.
Adding to the inability to quit is the ever-popular instant respawn. Checkpoints happen frequently, so if you fall into a giant pit of despair or a vat of yellow science juice (that's the proper term, people, look it up), you will just pop back into the game seconds later having lost nothing except maybe a few hairs you've inadvertantly ripped from your head.
I have to say, the puzzles in this title are far more difficult than the ones you encountered in Portal. Having four almost completely different abilities combined with levels that require an intense amount of finesse and skill, makes for a challenging experience. I like it when a game makes me feel like an idiot, and Quantum Conundrum beat that into my brain with every new area I entered.
Each area simply consists of getting from point A to point B, with only perilous falls to avoid and small platforms to navigate. Your uncle has a cache of safes just hanging out in his mansion, which you will use as movable platforms in conjunction with the ISD. I just accept the large amount of safes because everything I learned about rich people was via Scrooge McDuck and that room of gold coins he swims through. You will launch objects into the air, jump onto them, and fly through the air with what some might say the "greatest of ease." The whole experience is very graceful, at least until you smack into a wall or fall into a pit of acid.
This game is long. Beating the main campaign will take about seven to nine hours, depending on how adept you are with puzzles and picking up the core mechanics, but Quantum Conundrum comes chock full of replayability. Each area comes with two challenges, one for the time it takes you to solve the room, and another for the minimum amount of rift switches required. It's very rare to get any of these on your first run through, especially since Quantum Conundrum really encourages exploration and utilizing the powers in a variety of ways.
Not to mention the insane amount of collectibles. I nabbed every one I found, but still only came out of the game with about 30% of the total amount hidden in Quantum Conundrum. It loops back around to the idea that this game was created with exploration in mind. Really mastering the ISD opens up new areas in each level in an organic way. Instead of tackling this in a Metroidvania way by withholding powers making some parts of a level inaccessible, Quantum Conundrum gives you everything you need to 100% the game right away. It's just up to you to not totally blow it and ruin everything.
Swift has explained that there is a bright future of multiple pieces of DLC for this title, something that fits in perfectly with the overall concept. I look forward to playing more Quantum Conundrum in the future, but I guess I should probably beat all the current challenges first.
I loved this game. I loved it with every part of my brain. Does that sound dirty? Good. I really want to get across how fantastic this title is. The only problems I had with Quantum Conundrum were directly related to my inability to think through puzzles, and I will not criticize a game for being difficult or treating me like an adult. The swagger Quantum Conundrum has is terribly endearing. It's sweet without being a saccharine overdose, funny without trying too hard, and full of personality. I give this game the highest recommendation I have, which is currently in the form of a macaroni painting.
Quantum Conundrum is currently Windows only and available on Steam for $14.99, but the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade will see a release sometime this summer.
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Quantum Conundrum has had major hype behind its development and it's no surprise when you take a look at its elite roots. Designed by Kim Swift, who you might know as the lead designer on...
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