Published on March 14th, 2012 | by Cameron Woolsey
GDC: Quantum Conundrum Hands-On Preview
Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 (PSN) and Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Release Date: Summer 2012
Quantum Conundrum tells the tale of a boy lost in the mansion belonging to his possibly mad scientist uncle, Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, voiced by John de Lancie (Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation). After an experiment goes awry, it quickly becomes clear that both are trapped inside the enormous mansion. The boy sets out under the guidance of his uncle, who has mysteriously disappeared, to solve crazy puzzles in order to free the two prisoners.
Quantum Conundrum is a puzzle game played through a first-person perspective. Players move from room-to-room in the distorted, cartoon-like mansion by clearing contained puzzles. The setup is very familiar for those who have played Portal, which should come as no surprise since Quantum Conundrum is being designed by Kim Swift, who was the lead designer for, you guessed it, Portal.
Solving puzzles is possible due to the Interdimensional Shift Device (ISD), which allows players to shift dimensions at the press of a button. Many of the beginning puzzles in the demo I played consisted of switching back and forth between the Fluffy and Heavy dimensions. These early puzzles required that a box be lifted and placed on a button, which finishes the puzzle. Since gamers play as a kid, boxes can only be lifted in the fluffy dimension, in which everything becomes white and seemingly made of pillow fabric.
After placing the box on the button, players must switch to the heavy dimension which turns the once fluffy box into a metal safe, thus pressing down the button.
The ISD can be used when players locate batteries which are color suited a particular dimension. During the demo I only had control over the two dimensions, but near the end was a platform hopping sequence that caused flying tables and chairs to speed up to a dimensional rift that controls time. The ISD has four receptacles for batteries, so with the previously mentioned dimensions I can speculate that time is another. The fourth one remains a mystery for now.
Fans of Portal will find themselves in familiar territory with Quantum Conundrum. The boy in our story takes the place of the silent, box-flinging protagonist Chell while the eccentric Professor Q acts with characteristics of GLaDOS, who, at every chance, hands down sarcastic insults dressed as praise. From what I played it doesn’t seem that the game will become as complicated as Portal, but with Swift at the helm there is a good chance for plenty of head scratchers in tow. So far the game seems like it will end up being pretty fun. We will know for sure when it hits as a digital download this summer.