Quantum Conundrum Preview (PS3)

Portal lit the world on fire with a high demand for more puzzle games to satisfy the desires of the gaming audience. So what better way for Square Enix to replicate the success of Portal than to hire its lead designer, Kim Swift, to create a new intellectual property under the guise of Quantum Conundrum for the Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and Steam.

Quantum Conundrum pits players in the role of a boy who visits his uncle’s mansion to only become lost and partake in a failed experiment. Along the way, the boy discovers that his uncle, Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, is a mad scientist and his mansion isn’t the typical house -- it’s full of wonderful puzzles that must be solved for both him and his uncle to escape. Thus, players are thrust into what may as well be a spiritual successor to Portal 2 until Portal 3 arrives.

Dimensions will alter paintings

Played through the first-person perspective, Quantum Conundrum’s demo at the Game Developer Conference 2012 was a light-hearted affair that introduced the basic concepts of how to play. Puzzles are solved by switching between dimensions via the Interdimensional Shift Device that is mapped to the trigger buttons on the consoles. Witnessing the differences between the fluffy and heavy dimensions, Quantum Conundrum is going to be an excellent mind-bender to keep players on their toes.

In one scenario, to advance to the next room I had to quickly switch between the fluffy and heavy dimensions to pick up a large crate and then throw it in front of a laser while it’s heavy to provide clearance to advance. Another example was having to switch between fluffy to heavy to allow for crates to break glass that was holding me in a contained room. These were only a small taste of what’s to come and allowed me to obtain a sense of direction where the game is heading.

As players advance from room to room, they should be on the lookout for hilarious Easter eggs and lavish environments. Throughout the demo, I often stopped to examine the environment to enjoy the little thing such as a painting of a funny-looking hunter standing next to his pet tiger. What’s even more unique is that the paintings will change depending on what dimension you are in. Even the loading screens after dying provide humor and reason to keep your eyes glued to the screen. After each death, Swift and her team wrote together clever one-lines about why it’s not that bad to have died in the game since there are worse scenarios.

Red means go, right?

Considering myself a Portal fan, it was a great joy to play through the 15-minute-demonstration and witness that Swift is once again creating a silent character that players can rally behind. While advancing from room to room, Professor Q offers his insight, which normally is at the sake of comedy relief to lighten up the game. Whether it was jumping from floating chair to levitating table, Professor Q has a tremendous amount of puns for his nephew while the boy attempts save the both of them from the mansion that has gone haywire.

Even though I only saw the bare essentials of what makes up Quantum Conundrum, it’s easy to be excited for this project. The whole will definitely be more than the sum of its parts that took to create it. Some my scoff at it being a digital release and others may ignore it because it’s not an action-adventure with guns and is instead taking a more child-like approach to its colourful environments, but the gaming masses should not overlook the brilliance of Kim Swift and her crafty ways to create an intelligent puzzler.

Most Anticipated Feature: The ability to test my intelligence against the puzzles Kim Swift has created.

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