Master dimensional science in Quantum Conundrum

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by TRACY-MARK GORGAS / Special contributor to NWCN.com

KING5.com

Posted on August 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 1:24 AM

Remember that odd uncle who declared he would invent a device to change the world?  No? No problem, Quantum Conundrum will give you that uncle and all the odd science to go with it.  Grab your goggles and lab coat, safety first you know, we're going dimension hopping.

Story

You are the twelve year-old nephew of Professor Fitz Quadwrangle.  Every year your mother drops you off for a one week visit with your uncle, and every year he shows off his latest invention.  While every invention is impressive at first, each one tends to have a failing quirk.
 
This year when your mother drops you off something seems odd.  First there is an explosion as you arrive; second your uncle isn't there to greet you.  As you enter the house you hear your uncle over the house intercom.  He relates that he is stuck in a pocket dimension with no memory of how he got there.  Further, the house's main power is offline and needs to be restarted to help bring him back from the pocket dimension.
 
To keep his inventions a secret Prof. Quadwrangle has created an elaborate security system that involves switching between dimensions.  The key to this system is his newest invention, the Inter-Dimensional Shift Glove, or IDS Glove for short.

To save your uncle you'll have to master the IDS Glove and all the dimensions it controls.

Controls and Gameplay

 Quantum Conundrum is part first person puzzle game and part platformer.  The heart of the game is the IDS Glove.  With it you'll have control over four dimensions: Fluffy, Heavy, Slow, and Reverse Gravity.  The Fluffy dimension makes all objects lighter than a feather allowing you lift safes and furniture or to be blown about by giant fans found in various rooms.  The Heavy dimension makes all object super heavy letting you activate gravity switches.  Because of their heavy density these objects can't be destroyed by lasers in the house.  The Slow dimension slows down time to a crawl.  This allows you to jump on fast flying object to ride around or slow the fall of objects through energy switches.  Lastly the Reverse Gravity lets you do just that.  This comes in handy for ceiling mounted gravity switches.  It also gives you a unique way of traveling across rooms in later levels.

Manipulating these dimensions lets you solve the puzzles of each room you enter on your way to each generator in the different wings of the house.  Not only do you have to solve the puzzles to open the exits, but sometimes the puzzle is how to navigate to the exit.  Navigating becomes larger puzzle element of the game as it moves along.

I played the PC version.  You have the option of using the traditional mouse and keyboard or using a gamepad.  Both work rather well, I found neither to have any problems.

Graphics and Sound

 Quantum Conundrum is bright and colorful like a kids cartoon, almost Disney-esque in its look.  The rooms and hallways get to be boring after a while because they are repeated so often.  Even your uncle asks at one point in the game, "Haven't you been down this hall before?"

Speaking of your uncle, Professor Fritz Quadwrangle is voiced by John de Lancie, best known for his role as Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Mr. de Lancie does a fine job as Prof. Quadwrangle with colorful commentary and hints.

Overall

Quantum Conundrum plays a lot like Portal and with good reason.  Kim Swift, the creator of Quantum Conundrum, was one of the lead developers of Portal.  Even before I found that out, the game had the general feel of Portal.  This is in no way a knock against the game.  Swift simply took the basics of Portal and built a great new game around it.

Quantum Conundrum is a lot of fun.  The puzzles start simple, but as the game progresses they become harder involving multiple dimension swaps.  Some will have you wracking your brain and dying often as you work out the solution.  Not all of the puzzles have one solution; in fact I think I solved two of them in ways not originally intended.

As fun as the puzzle rooms are the "cut and paste" rooms and hallways between them drag it down a bit.  The script adds to this.  While Mr. de Lancie delivers great lines, they are never laugh-out-loud funny.  Lastly the ending is sudden and not fulfilling.

I really enjoyed Quantum Conundrum.  It surpassed my original expectations and tickled that brain teaser puzzle buff in me.  I give Quantum Conundrum a 4.5 out of 5.

Quantum Conundrum is rated E for Everyone for Comic Mischief by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).


Quantum Conundrum Is available now for Windows PC, PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.  For more information see the Quantum Conundrum web site.

 

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