AMD Radeon HD 2900
You know the type: charming, comical, cute, and with a certain geeky awkwardness you can’t help but like. She makes you feel so intelligent, and you can’t help but be attracted to her. The tug of your chemistry pulling you in, the fluttering in your heart promising a good time. Quantum Conundrum is pretty much just like that girl, but can the oh so sweet promise of humor and intelligent discourse live up to the fantasy?
Quantum Conundrum starts off with a premise straight out of a Saturday Morning cartoon. Your mother, being the busy woman she is, drops you off at your Uncle Quadwrangle’s manor. Well, at least I’m assuming she’s incredibly busy, otherwise I can’t see any reason for her to drop you off there. Speaking kindly, your Uncle Quadwrangle happens to be a loony little science wizard. His manor is a maze of maddeningly familiar decor, full of an abundance of lasers, safes, contraptions, and various noisemakers. Actually, your mom is probably a bit irresponsible if she’s leaving you with this guy.
Of course, your uncle, being the madman he is, gets himself into a neat little mess just as you arrive. An experiment goes wrong, and it’s suddenly up to you to brave the manor’s various rooms full of deathtraps, to restart the generators and help your uncle find a way out of the mysterious pocket dimension he’s found himself in. To do this you’ll have to equip yourself with your uncle’s Interdimensional Shift Device (IDS), a glove that let’s you manipulate the world around you by shifting across various dimensions.
The Interdimensional Shift Device. This is where the problems start and end.
While it sounds like a trip, in practice other dimensions are less totally far out places, and more property changes for objects around you, accompanied by visuals filters and texture replacements. There’s the fluffy dimension, which makes everything around you lighter, the heavy dimension, the slow motion dimension, and the reverse gravity dimension. It should also be noted that the state of your body remains constant through all these dimensional changes, so you won’t be turning into a cotton ball or sticking to the ceiling yourself.
While the dimensions themselves may not be anything astonishing, applied together they create an interesting interplay. On their own the dimensions allow you to alter properties of objects, to perform tasks such as picking up objects that would normally be too heavy to carry, or increasing the density of an object even further to prevent laser beams from cutting through it. There’s even a recurring puzzle where you turn safes fluffy, in order to pick them up and throw them through glass windows, much to the displeasure of your uncle.
QC takes a while to get going, however. The first hour or so starts slowly, introducing elements at a leisurely pace and having you repeat them to make sure you understand. In fact, the start of QC almost made me feel as if it was wasting my time with some of its puzzles. For example, one puzzle involves finding what switch triggers which DOLLI (Dynamic Object Linear Ligation Interface), a cloning device that spits out all manner of objects (usually safes and couches). The only challenge is sorting which wire leads from the pressure plates to the DOLLIs, through the mess of overlapping wires. It’s the kind of activity that you’d find in a children’s coloring book, although made a bit more difficult by the abundance of similar looking switches, timed dimension shifts and the first-person perspective.
In other circumstances, this would be grounds for calling the manor haunted.
Thankfully, the puzzles do pick up in difficulty and there are definitely some genuinely clever solutions to be found. The puzzles are definitely the lock and key type and, aside from a certain puzzle near the endgame, puzzles generally have singular method of solving them. QC will have you scratching your head at moments, but I found that most of the puzzles didn’t require anything more than a little bit of experimenting, or taking a step away from the game for a few minutes. It’s at this point that my relationship with Quantum Conundrum begins to break up.
I want Quantum Conundrum to give me back my time. I spent so much of my time figuring out its puzzles, working through until I found a solution, only to crash straight into a wall (sometimes literally) due to QC demanding that I pull off a cross dimensional leap of faith, switching in mid-air between platforms and dimensions while praying I don’t screw up. Minutes upon minutes, maybe even hours, wasted simply because I knew exactly what to do, but couldn’t pull of the ridiculous stunts QC demands. It started small, asking fairly reasonable things, some of which felt damn good to pull off. As I spent more time within the rooms of the manor, QC started to ask more and more of me. I plummeted to my death dozens of times, feeling like a show dog being shouted down as I failed. “Bad Player! Try it again or there will be no treats for you!”
Suddenly, the world around me begins to smother and constrict me. The color washes away to monochrome (okay, so that’s actually an effect of switching dimensions), the charming Saturday Morning animation art style begins to nick at my sanity, as every hallway begins to blend together into a vision of deja vu populated by the same safes, couches, robots and ever repetitive decor. The safes! Why safes? What the hell is even in those safes, and why the hell does my uncle have so many of the damn things? Why does this madman have the same set of couches and books in every damn hallway? What’s in that “science juice” flooding the tubes of the manor anyway?
Ah yes, I believe they call that one, the
And that damn music...that cheery, entirely inoffensive muzak accompanying my every move. How it grates on me. Don’t think I’ve forgotten you either, Uncle Quadwrangle. You and your slick voice. You who follows my every move from whatever pocket dimension you’re at, commenting on everything. Judging me, switching off between complimenting me and condescending me, with your “hints” that always come just as I’ve figured it out myself. Yes, I get it. I can handle it myself, I’m a big boy. Don’t get me started on your puns, either. I swear you chose to use safes in all these puzzles simply for their puntential (truly sorry for that one).
I wish I could give you points for being stable and reliable, but I can’t even do that. Remember when I said, “Hey, let’s turn the music down for a bit, yeah?” and you totally freaked and broke down on me? I had to reinstall and reboot you just to get you working again after that. You just absolutely refused to start. I’m sure you’re not like that with everybody, but that it was annoying nonetheless. I’ll let that one time you let me get stuck in those pipes near the ceiling go, because it let me get through your inane platforming demands a bit quicker. You’ve got the controls thing nailed down, which was nice, and you even gave me the option to change my FOV, which was a lifesaver. You’re a bit lacking on the graphics options, however. I know you don’t got much to tweak, but I would like, say, anti-aliasing and texture options? It’s just a common courtesy. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, did you seriously have to force me to go back to the “start game” splash screen every time? I mean, all I want to do is quit, and you force me to go back to the splash screen, hit start, and then quit? Just let me Alt-F4 okay? Seriously, that’s rude.
I’m burned out, Quantum Conundrum. It was lovely at first. I enjoyed your charms, your silly little puns, and that thing you do where the portraits in the manor change with the dimensions. It’s adorable, really. It’s just that you ask too much from me, and it’s just not fun anymore. You get “cute” to the point of irritation, you treat me like a child, and you’ve got no sense of humor outside those damn puns.
I think I’m going to going to spend a bit of time with your older sister, Portal, again. Yes, she’s a bit black humored and indifferent, but she’s smart and she treats me like I am too.
P.S. I liked throwing safes through your windows, it was very cathartic.
- Charming Art Style: Captures the colorful and playful style of a cartoon.
- Quite a Conundrum: There are quite a few deliciously clever puzzles here.
- Glass Ceilings (and Floors and Windows): Throwing safes through glass never stops being fun.
- It’s Not Punny Anymore: Puns. So many. Seriously, even the level names are puns.
- Muzak: It’s not bad at all, but it’s nothing standout either.
- Xentastic Platforming: First-person platforming takes the joy right out of it.
- Repetitive: There’s only so many times I can see the same hallway, or pull off the same platforming stunt before it loses it’s magic.