Posted by drew10 on Jul 18, 2012
Quantum Conundrum – Square Enix – XBLA

Quantum Conundrum – Square Enix – XBLA

If you ask Professor Brian Cox, he might say that the universe is split into different dimensions on the quantum level. Of course he would say it whilst being overly excited and smiling, a lot. Now imagine you have control over these dimensions, well four of them to be precise, and that you are a twelve-year-old girl trapped inside the mansion of your mad scientist uncle. This is the premise of Quantum Conundrum by Airtight Games, created by the co-creator of Portal, Kim Swift.

Your uncle, Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, has become trapped inside a parallel universe and needs your help to free him. To do this you will need to start a gyro at the end of each of four areas of his mansion. Navigating your way through the mansion that hosts his various experiments and inventions isn’t easy. Luckily enough you are aided by one such invention, the Inter–Dimensional Shift Device. The IDS allows you to shift into four other dimensions. These dimensions are fluffy, heavy, slow-motion and reverse gravity. Fortunately the person holding the IDS Device will remain within all the standard physical properties, meaning that if you are in the slow motion dimension you will be able to move at normal speed etc. Shifting between each dimension will be required (or combinations of any of them) to solve some of the devious puzzles along the way.  You can, for example, turn a safe fluffy so you can pick it up and throw it. Quickly hit the slow-motion button and you can jump on top of said safe and use it to propel you to unreachable areas. Likewise take a cardboard box and throw it, hit the heavy dimension and it will break through glass. Each dimension can only be switched to if you have the corresponding IDS battery. You will need to collect these in every level and put them in the power converter to be able to use the switch.

The games controls are easy to get to grips with. Each dimension is mapped to the triggers and bumpers. ‘A’ jumps, ‘X’ picks up objects, ‘B’ throws objects and ‘Y’ will return you to the normal universe at any time.

You can instantly recognise the influence of Portal in the level design but Quantum Conundrum is a whole different… erm… dimension to Valve’s game. For a start Quantum Conundrum is more platform based in its gameplay. Jumping from item to item to reach the goal is a huge part of the overall play. Also using the four dimensions gives you more to think about than the just the two portals and also means that goals can be reached using slightly varying tactics.

Graphically Quantum Conundrum is neat without being spectacular. The level design is superb but the setting never really changes. The graphics for each of the differing dimensions are cool, with the fluffy one being a particular favourite. However, it would just have been nice to see some different locales used. There are two main types of rooms, those that look like mansion house rooms with bookcases and furniture (the furniture can also be used towards your goal). Or more scientific rooms with giant yellow tubes pumping ‘science juice’ around the mansion. Other than that there is little to no variation.

Assisting you from another realm is Professor Fitz Quadwrangle ably played by John de Lancie (‘Q’ on Star Trek). His script is funny and his performance lends itself well to the overall feel of this game. Other than that the sound effects are decent enough and the music is quirky and fun.

There are a few issues with the game that I need to highlight. With the gameplay requiring precise jumping in places it can be very easy to miss your landing. This is not just a problem with this title as many 3D platformers suffer similar issues. However what is a major problem is the jump button itself. When you have made it over say, four jumps and you are just about to launch yourself again the jump button can randomly completely let you down. It happened on more than a few occasions, just as I was about to perform a jump nothing happened and I fell into my ‘science-juice’ induced death. For a game that relies so heavily on timing and precision this grates. Also there are some sections that are just so fiddly that they become joypad gnawingly frustrating. Added to this is the fact that the script repeats itself every time you redo a section. Doing a section four or five times whilst hearing “It looks like there are three safes here.” Has you screaming “Yes I bloody know, I have fallen off them five times already!” before looking coyly around to see if anyone was within earshot.

To be fair though Quantum Conundrum never reaches a point where it becomes unplayable and it certainly has the “I am just going to do this bit, then turn it off” factor. Yes it has annoying issues but endeavour sees these overcome. The rewards are tangible, the feeling of satisfaction when you finally complete a section that made you lose most of your hair, is great. Plus you get a pretty decent sized game for your 1200MS Points (£8.79 on PSN) and even when you complete the main quest there are extra levels to be worked out.

As a whole package Quantum Conundrum is a real triumph and one which proves that you can make a game of true quality for a budget price.



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