Quantum Conundrum has been taking PCs by storm and is headed to consoles tomorrow. And it pains me to say this because it’s almost a great game, but it’s crippled by one terrible flaw.
The gameplay is essentially built around four concepts: you have the ability to make objects ten times lighter (fluffy), ten times heavier (heavy), slow down time, and reverse gravity.
A lot of love and care went into this game: the puzzles are mind-bending and fun to solve. The graphics are adorable without being cutesy, and the same is true of the writing. Penny Arcade has a fairly accurate summary of how you feel when you beat a room in the game. At its best, it really does deliver some great puzzle platforming action, some of the best I’ve seen in years.
Unfortunately, there’s that one crippling flaw we talked about, and that’s the fact that it’s a puzzle platformer…in the first person.
How this terrible design decision made it all the way to release, I have no idea whatsoever. But it pretty much kills the fun of most puzzle rooms.
Really, once you’ve cracked the puzzle, applying the solution should be fairly straightforward. This is what made Portal work: once you teased out the solution, it came together smoothly and simply. In Quantum Conundrum, once you solve the puzzle, you now have to figure out how to do the necessary jumps without being able to see your feet or how close you are to the edge.
It turns what should be a gratifying experience into a dull chore. For the record, the QD crew are hardly the only people who need to be beaten with an axe handle saying “platforming puzzles do not belong in games where you can’t see your feet”, but here it’s particularly egregious because that’s the entire game.
Is Quantum Conundrum worth its price? Tough question. If you’ve got the patience to deal with the repetition of jumping puzzles, then go for it. If not, it’s probably best to wait for the sequel…or the patch that gives you a third-person option.
image courtesy Square Enix