Quantum Conundrum is really difficult to not compare to the Portal franchise and this isn’t surprising when you look behind the scenes of this 3D puzzle jumper. Designed by Kim Swift, the creator of Portal, it’s easy to see the similarities between the games. The silent protagonist (you) and an omnipresent voice always saying some snide thing or another from God-knows-where. The similarities end there… more or less.
The game puts you in the mansion of one Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, apparently some relation to you and quite full of himself. This is made blatantly obvious from the very first second of the game when you hear the voice. It took me a minute, then I realized who it was; Q.
Yeah, that Q. John De Lancie. He has the exact same intonations, demeaning quips and textbook narcissism that his extra-dimensional counterpart had while torturing Captain Picard and his band of merry men. Initially this put me off, but he actually pulls off a few jokes and remarks that I found amusing during throughout the game. Ike, his minion, is a silent assistant throughout the game. Just… don’t take anything from him while in the slow dimension, at least while wearing headphones. You will regret doing that.
Ike has also mastered the hypnotoad effect. Not cool.
The game itself revolves around dimensional shifting into one of five planes: ours, Fluffy, Heavy, Slow and Reverse Gravity. Each dimension has its own advantages and drawbacks, especially when you’re doing speed and shift runs after you’ve finished the game initially. Each dimension is exactly as it sounds.
The only catch is that when you shift dimensions, you and a few select items in the mansion retain “normal” dimension characteristics, so you can’t use a fan in fluffy for instance to go air surfing. However you can use a fluffy sofa to accomplish this feat of the suicidal. The ultimate goal is to shift dimensions and manipulate the environment within the dimensions to make it to the end and find your uncle.
Who has a fetish for tacos? I’m positive this was invented to feed Ike.
This is not without hazards, though. Lasers that will burn through everything not made of 3 foot thick steel, a ridiculous number of flying objects and “science juice” flooding the mansion, searing flesh from bone causes a lot of problems. Even areas of the mansion seem intentionally designed to get people killed, despite only Q and Ike living there.
Who puts bottomless pits in their house? Well I guess I would too if I could.
One advantage of this game is that there are no enemies. It’s just you, the environment, Q yelling at you over a loudspeaker system and Ike looking very creepily at a painting of himself. Along the way you can find collectables too, either in the form of 4 blueprints and toy robots that each make an amusing (or irritating) noise when you pick them up or drop them. They’re part of completing the game though, so you have to find all of them.Mercifully, the game tells you after you’ve completed a level if you missed something like a robot, so you’re not searching the entire bloody game or Googling walk-throughs to find that ONE FREAKING ROBOT you missed at level 6.
Inside the environment are a LOT of jokes. Little things like book titles and blueprints in the laboratory. Even the most internet savvy may miss a few (like the IDST above). It’s a fun little side adventure to look around and see what Easter Eggs the developers dispersed throughout the mansion.
Overall, Quantum Conundrum managed to wrap fun, annoying and walk-away-frustrating in a nice little package that could explode at any second and a few times. It only took me about 4 hours to actually finish the game. The speed and shift runs take up considerably more time and at 10 hours I’m 83% complete. As a bonus, DLC is already being produced for the game with promise of significantly increased difficulty. So for those of you who like the brain-liquifying difficulty of Riven, you may be in luck in the future.
Overall rating: 3.5 of 5.