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Quantum Conundrum PS3 Review

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Quantum Conundrum

Quantum Conundrum

Image © Square Enix
Gamers who know the power of the "Portal" games (two titles that should be on everyone's list of the best puzzle titles ever produced) should take a trip to the world of "Quantum Conundrum," a new downloadable title not available at GameStop but ready for you to play through the PlayStation Network on your PS3 for $19.99. Twenty bucks for a downloadable game? Seems like a lot, right? It's not for a game that's more engaging and well-made than half of the full-priced, on-disc games released so far this year. 2012 has been a landmark year in downloadable titles with games like "Journey," "I Am Alive," and "The Walking Dead" shattering expectations. We can add "Quantum Conundrum" to the list of reasons to access the PlayStation Store more often than you do now.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Airtight Games
  • ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
  • Genre: Puzzle Action
  • Pros: Incredibly Smart Writing, Engaging Puzzles, Variety of Gameplay
  • Cons: Some Camera Issues, Average Graphics Which Lead to Platforming Problems

Kim Swift designed for Valve, the company that made "Portal," one of the most influential games of all time (she's also credited as working on "Half-Life 2" and "Left 4 Dead" if you needed to love her even more). She has left Valve and now works with Airtight Games, where she led the development of a "Portal"-esque game called "Quantum Conundrum," another adventure in which time, space, and law of physics must be bent to proceed while a mysterious voice guides the way. When compared directly to "Portal" and "Portal 2," "Quantum Conundrum" comes up short. (But most games do.) But when the price and what you get for it is taken into account, the game delivers.

Gameplay

Quantum Conundrum

Quantum Conundrum

Image © Square Enix

The silent protagonist of "Quantum Conundrum" has a simple goal -- move forward. From room to room, you progress, trying to solve puzzles that will eventually lead to a final room where you can save your uncle, who is trapped between dimensions. Where are you? The enormous mansion of Professor Fitz Quadwrangle (voiced by John de Lancie, best known as "Q" on "Star Trek: The Next Generation"), a labyrinth of rooms filled with increasingly challenging puzzles that will task your brain and your hand-eye coordination. The game development in the former department -- the actual puzzle design -- is what you would expect from one of the most important game designers of the last decade. The platforming leaves more to be desired.

Much like "Portal," you quickly gain access to a device that changes the world around you. To solve puzzles, you will have to switch dimensions in the mansion. The four dimensions are, rather descriptively, "Fluffy," "Heavy," "Slow," and "Reverse Gravity." Switching between dimensions changes what you can do in a puzzle room. For example, you may need to pick up an object that's too heavy and use it to depress a platform. Switch to Fluffy, pick it up, and switch to Heavy. Of course, that's about as simple as it gets and it will get much more complex.

It will also often come down to timing. For example, you may have to use a massive fan and the "Fluffy" dimension to create a platform or even lift yourself to a certain height. These sequences can often be frustrating in that timing and jumping can be a bit off in "Quantum Conundrum." The graphics aren't detailed enough to offer the depth that's sometimes needed for the platforming aspects. There were times where I thought I had to do something else puzzle-related when it really just came down to an issue of timing a jump.

Graphics & Sound

Once again, it comes down to expectations. "Quantum Conundrum" doesn't look stellar when compared to similar on-disc games but it's strong for the value and when compared to other PSN titles. The game has a very cartoonish look that works but won't be used to show off your HD TV. As for sound, the voice work is expectedly stellar. Kim Swift clearly values dialogue as much as anyone in game development and the audio is no mere afterthought here.

Overall

Quantum Conundrum

Quantum Conundrum

Image © Square Enix

All complaints that could be leveled at "Quantum Conundrum" are minor ones, especially when one takes into account its cost. It's arguably the most essential game to hit the PSN since "Journey." "Quantum Conundrum" is a smart, fun, increasingly complex game that will challenge viewers and introduce them to a world unlike any we've seen since...well..."Portal 2."

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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