Quantum Conundrum review
Quantum Conundrum has some massive shoes to fill. Being the next puzzle game from the mind of Kim Swift, Project Lead on the original Portal, is perhaps the biggest shoes a $15 project could try to step into. In a lot of ways, Quantum Conundrum feels like the smaller, less accomplished brother of Portal. Both games are first-person puzzlers, involve a snarky narrator, lead the player through a series of puzzle chambers, and end with a credits sequence that involves a song written within the game's fiction. The similarities to Portal hurt Quantum Conundrum much like how a younger brother might be hurt by the high standards set by a successful older brother. Portal comparisons aside, Kim Swift's new first-person puzzler still packs a lot of charm.
Quantum Conundrum places you in the role of a scientist's nephew after arriving at your uncle's home. As you enter, an explosion shakes the foundation and your uncle finds himself trapped in a pocket dimension but still able to communicate with you despite the distance. To free your trapped elder, you must travel through three areas of the mansion and restart generators that power the house. Once all three generators are running, your uncle should have enough power to escape his dimensional prison.
While traversing the mansion and solving puzzles, you gain access to four alternate dimensions that affect the properties of objects around you. Is a safe too heavy to pick up? Enter the fluffy dimension where all objects are as soft and light as pillows. A cardboard box is too light to push down a switch? Well, the heavy dimension will make that cardboard as dense as steel. The slow motion and reverse gravity dimensions round out the four powers at your disposal. You'll need to use them all in conjunction with one another to pass many of the puzzles in the mansion while trying to save your uncle.
Mixing dimensions tests the player's dexterity and feels rewarding. A typical puzzle may involve switching to the fluffy dimension to throw an object and then changing the properties mid-air to either send it crashing through a window, block a laser beam, or one of a long list of other environmental interactions. The best puzzles in Quantum Conundrum, though, involve the slow motion dimension and hopping from flying object to flying object while changing their properties to advance through an obstacle course. The sense of chaos and speed while being hurled through the air is fantastic and easily the most fun the game's puzzles have to offer. It probably helps that the objects are almost always household furniture like tables and couches, making the whole process feel a bit insane. Flying through the air on a couch is, perhaps, a once in a lifetime experience.
As you may have been able to tell, the atmosphere in Quantum Conundrum is light-hearted, and often times silly. Upon death, the load screen displays a random entry in a "Things you will never experience" list that includes "falling in love" and "growing old enough to realize you are not special." Shifting dimensions not only changes how all the surrounding objects look and interact, but even affects the decorations. Characters in portraits may start donning a cute bunny costume in the fluffy dimension or metal spikes and face paint in the heavy dimension. The cartoon art style helps make the most absurd aspects of the game feel completely sensical. Your uncle, who narrates your adventure, also does his best to lighten the mood whenever possible. Unfortunately, much like a real life uncle, his jokes aren't always incredibly funny or worth listening to.