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E3 2012: Quantum Conundrum Might Give You Deja Vu

Posted on June 6, 2012 AT 02:18pm

The Big Question: Can Quantum Conundrum find Portal-sized success?

From everything I’ve seen, Quantum Conundrum is a delightful game. It’s got a charming premise in you’re a young boy trying to rescue your eccentric, inventive uncle trapped in another dimension, with smart, funny gameplay to match. I’ve seen the game a few times now, so there isn’t a whole lot new they can show me—like Kim Swift’s previous game Portal, the nature of its first person puzzling lends itself to simple mechanics amidst complex situations—but its personality is immediately apparent every time.

Your uncle (voiced by Star Trek’s John Delancie, incidentally) would be enough almost on his own, taking GlaDOS’ role as helper and narrator, making sarcastic remarks about your progress while nudging you along. Then there’s the mansion itself, done up in Pixar-style in stylized rooms with paintings that change from one cartoony style to another depending on the dimension you’re in. There are even belching robot faces scattered throughout your uncle’s laboratory-converted home.

So they have the Portal humor down, something Airtight made sure to point out during the demo I saw earlier today. So, even with a more kiddie feel (read: not kiddie puzzles) can Quantum be as successful as Kim Swift’s debut? I don’t really see why not.

Quantum and Portal share that design style of implementing simple concepts and controls into increasingly complex situations, so the learning curve isn’t that bad. Airtight has said they’ve made sure to implement new dimensional shifting abilities—essentially you can shift between dimensions that alter the properties of the world around you (say, making objects light as a feather, extremely heavy and dense, or able to move in slow motion) at a pace where players get a chance to learn them before moving on.

It’s just the puzzles that get harder, starting with simple tasks like breaking glass by switching from the “fluffy” dimension to make a safe light enough to throw (changing back to normal dimension after you’ve thrown it) to using objects as dynamic objects for a platforming by hijacking the power of gravity and physics.

Some of the demo puzzles I saw involved scenarios like this, not to mention blocking lasers through manipulation of the heavy dimension and other things. Combining different dimensional abilities is one of the most interesting thing about the game, since it can lead to multiple solutions to a given problem.

This kind of thing is right up a Portal fan’s alley, and between the humor, cute presentation and some really mind-bending puzzles, things are looking pretty promising. The mansion does feel a bit same-y from the various demos Square Enix has shown off, and there’s a possibility that Portal’s success could also be because it’s a Valve game (Valve fans love everything) but if that’s the biggest problem with Quantum I don’t think puzzle fans have much to worry about.

What do you think about Quantum Conundrum? Can Kim Swift make another hit or is it too similar? Sound off in the comments section below.

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