Well known for her work on “Portal,” the puzzle game that pioneered the genre, Kim Swift has revealed her next project, “Quantum Conundrum.” After leaving Valve back in 2009, Swift joined forces with Airtight Games where she was given her own team of developers and the freedom to work on her very own project. In “Quantum Conundrum,” Swift has kept to her roots and made a clever game with a very unique look and concept.
In the game, players will control a young boy who has been sent to stay the weekend at his uncle’s mansion. It sounds like any other ordinary weekend, but in this case, your uncle happens to be the famous inventor, Professor Quadwrangle, who has earned millions from his creations. After an unfortunate disaster in Quadwrangle’s lab, he has suddenly gone missing. Players will then find themselves traversing from one room to the next in order to find their lost uncle. This may appear to be an easy task, but keep in mind that the mansion is filled with the most complex and mentally tortuous puzzles that will challenge even the most hardcore gamers.
Fortunately, players will embark on their journey well equipped with one of Uncle Quadwrangle’s most extraordinary inventions, The IDS (Interdimensional Shift Device). The IDS is a little black glove that is worn on the kid’s arm that allows him to switch between various dimensions. Each dimension is different in it’s own way and will assist the kid in his search for his lost uncle. From what I have seen, all the dimensions have a brilliant way of changing the physics of the environment, thus altering the way the game is played. The different dimensions and their characteristics are as follows:
- Normal Dimension: I think this one is pretty much self explanatory…
- Fluffy Dimension: In this dimension, the mansion is transformed into a cute and cuddly dwelling with plush objects. When converting to this dimension, all of the furniture throughout the mansion transforms from heavy, solid objects, into lightweight and maneuverable stuffed animal-type objects. Once the “fluffy dimension” is in effect, players have the ability to move objects that were previously impossible to lift.
- Slow-Motion Dimension: When transferring to this dimension, every object that was in motion will suddenly be converted to an extremely slow state of movement. This dimension grants players much-needed time required to successfully complete a tricky task.
- Reverse Gravity Dimension: This dimension will send object spiraling towards the ceiling, and will give players access to those high places that are inaccessible without using a ladder or, of course, the ability to manipulate the gravity throughout the environment.
- Mysterious 5th Dimension: At this point in the game’s development, the fifth dimension has yet to be revealed. Possibly a time traveling dimension?
Some puzzles will require players to quickly switch between the dimensions to pull off a single complicated assignment. For instance, when a glass wall is between the player and their destination, the glass wall must be smashed. A quick assessment of the room reveals that all of the objects in the area are too heavy to move. By simply toggling from the “normal dimension” to the “fluffy dimension”, players will be able to lift and catapult the plush object towards the glass wall. Just before impact, switch to “normal dimension” and the plush object turns into a heavy object that soon crashes through the glass wall. Now that the glass wall is down, victory is yours, you may proceed to the next challenge.
Some gameplay concepts I have seen resemble to those found in “Portal.” The use of the safes in “Quantum Conundrum” are operated similar to the cubes in “Portal.” The safes must be placed on pressure-sensitive platforms that open a door or activate a certain device. The safes are found in practically every room, and if destroyed, are regenerated by “Dolli,” who was invented by Professor Quadwrangle. Dolli is a big, goofy, spherical robot that is implanted into the walls throughout the mansion. Professor Quadwrangle has created Dolli to clone an object if it went missing from an experiment, working similar to the cube generation tubes in “Portal.”
“Quantum Conundrum” has a cartoon look similar to that of Valve’s “Team Fortress 2.” Although the game looks as if it were derived from a children’s book, the demanding tests and trials are sure to make this game one to be reckoned with. Just like the “Portal” series, “Quantum Conundrum” has taken a comical approach to the gameplay experience. From what I have seen, the environment is depicted in a very humorous manner that changes from one dimension to the next. In “normal dimension,” a painting of a goldfish and a cat may appear as nothing out of the ordinary, but when that very same painting is subject to the “fluffy dimension,” the cat and goldfish become overwhelmed with excessive fluffyness. Switching to the “reverse gravity dimension” will illustrate the two as they awkwardly begin their rise to the ceiling. The kooky and hilarious aspect of the game is sure to sparks a few laughs while playing.
Developers say the main quest will have four to six hours of gameplay, with an additional two hours of gameplay to complete the additional challenges. Judging from what I have seen so far, “Quantum Conundrum” is on the right track to being an original experience that will present a refreshing outlook on the puzzle game genre. You can look for the game on XBox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and PC via Steam in early 2012. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but judging by the game’s DLC status I’m guessing it will be no more than $25.
Check out the game trailer below:
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Here’s a walkthrough with Kim Swift:
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All images Courtesy of Square Enix