Wednesday 18 September 2019

Clever puzzler is great fun

WHILE PORTAL-ESQUE, Quantum Conundrum doesn't quite match the genius of its spiritual predecessor, it certainly is a deliciously clever puzzle game. Conundrum sends you on a quest of inter-dimensional problem solving to rescue your mad-scientist uncle, who has gone missing somewhere in his labyrinthine mansion. The professor's latest invention, the Inter-dimensional Shift Device (or ISD), should prove quite useful in navigating the obstacles in each room -- obstacles like death lasers and pools of skin-melting "science juice."

The Interdimensional Shift Device (or IDS) lets you freely phase into four dimensions, each changing the physical properties of your environment in different ways. For example, say you need to drop something heavy on a switch. In the fluffy dimension, everything sheds its weight and can be lifted with ease.

Herein lies one of Quantum Conundrum's two main... well, not failings, but certainly elements that threaten to disrupt the experimentation moments it's founded upon. Given just how much it revels in surrealistic oddness, it's inflexible about its puzzle solutions - routes to the exit have to be the way the game intended, and attempts to shortcut by standing a bit of handy railing or jumping from a clearly man-sized box are undone by quiet cheats such as making certain objects impossible to stand on or forcing you off them.

Leaping onto a slow-motion safe as it soars through the air is easy enough, but you're called upon to perform some increasingly difficult feats in the later areas of the mansion--leaping between flying pieces of furniture while also deftly switching between dimensions to keep them sailing through the air without bringing them into contact with lasers, for instance.

The first-person perspective makes it hard at times to judge just where you are in relation to objects around you, and the trickiness of successfully pulling off some of the necessary maneuvers may have you second-guessing yourself. Is what you're doing not working because it's not the right solution, or are you just not pulling it off correctly? Quantum Conundrum is at its best when it requires your brain, rather than your reflexes, to do the heavy lifting.

A clever puzzler that is beyond doubt inspired by the Portal series (who ever said this was a bad thing?). Perhaps one of Quantum Conundrum's faults is its almost contrived cleverness, but I don't care. Its simply too much fun.

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